New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg is yet again under fire for appearing to have dropped the longtime criminal investigation into Donald Trump and his real estate empire, after New York Attorney General Tish James announced a bombshell civil suit against Trump and his family members for many of the same acts the criminal case was presumed to cover.
Bragg, a former Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York (SDNY), took office on January 1, 2022, after winning election following the retirement of Cyrus Vance, Jr. Many had expected Vance to file charges, but almost immediately Bragg was accused of slow-walking the last portion of the investigation. By February 23, the investigation's top two prosecutors abruptly quit.
The news rocked the country and New York.
One day later The New Yorker's award-winning investigative reporter, Jane Mayer, wrote: "After promising to prioritize the case, the new Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, seems to have abandoned it."
Indeed, despite Bragg's claim months later, that the case was still active, charges have yet to be filed.
On Wednesday, after AG James sued Trump, his three eldest children – Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka – several of his companies, and people associated with his business including former CFO Allen Weisselberg, many are turning their attention to Bragg.
Many believed Vance had come close to filing charges. As far back as 2019, as investigative reporter David Farenthold (then at The Washington Post and now of The New York Times) reported, they had already found plenty, he notes today.
Anger online against Bragg is palpable, given all that James revealed.
Tish James' "massive case also raises real questions about why [Bragg] stood down on this same case on the criminal side, to the point where two prosecutors quit," tweeted MSNBC anchor Joy Reid.
Clearly aware of the optics and possibly the blowback brewing online Bragg, one hour after James' press conference ended, claimed that his investigation remains "ongoing."
Legal experts too are stunned.
"The more I read about the NY AG civil fraud case against Trump, the more I wonder how Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg could possibly have rejected indicting him for criminal fraud," writes Tristan Snell, an attorney formerly in the NY AG's office who prosecuted the Trump University case.
On Wednesday he observed, "NYAG Tish James’s office remains unimpressed with the performance of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg in their parallel investigations."
Law professor Jennifer Taub says she's "Wondering whether this puts pressure on Alvin Bragg to act."
"Much of what [James] is describing is EXACTLY what Cy Vance was investigating."
Attorney, political commentator, and former South Carolina state lawmaker Bakari Sellers says Bragg "has abdicated his duty and/or lacks the courage to do his job."