Manhattan District Attorney on the Case Against Trump

April 4, 2023

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Tuesday said the arraignment of former President Trump was a case that was “ready to be brought.” 

Bragg spoke at a press conference after Trump was formally arraigned on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and conspiracy related to hush money payments made in the lead-up to the 2016 Presidential election. 

When asked by a reporter why now was time to bring those charges, Bragg said his office had “conducted a rigorous investigation and the case was ready to be brought.”

He asserted Trump made “34 false statements…to cover up other crimes,” and added that this is a “felony crime in New York Sate no matter who you are. We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.”

According to Bragg, “The defendant repeatedly made false statements on New York business records. He also caused others to make false statements.” 

The D.A. said Trump had paid his former attorney Michael Cohen for legal services performed in 2017. However, “This simply was not true,” said Bragg. “And it was a false statement the defendant made month after month in 2017. April, May, June, and so on through the rest of the year.”

Cohen had pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal crimes and served prison time for his role in the payoff of $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels, a campaign contribution violation during the 2016 election cycle, since it was made in service of the Trump campaign and $130,000 exceeded the federal limit.

“Why did Donald Trump repeatedly make these false statements? The evidence will show that he did so to cover up crimes relating to the 2016 election,” Bragg alleged. “Donald Trump, executives at the publishing company American Media Inc., Mr. Cohen and others agreed in 2015 to a ‘catch and kill’ scheme.”

American Media Inc. owns the National Enquirer. Former Enquirer publisher David Pecker, who testified before the grand jury in March, paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal for her story about having had a 10-month affair with Trump in the mid-2000s. The tabloid never ran her story but in paying her the Enquirer kept McDougal from selling it to any other media outlet—in other words, “catch and kill.”

Bragg did not mention McDougal to reporters, but he did say, “One of the people being paid to keep quiet was a woman named Stormy Daniels. Less than two weeks before the Presidential election Michael Cohen wired $130,000 to Stormy Daniels’ lawyer. That payment was to hide damaging information from the voting public.”

Participation in this scheme, Bragg added, “was illegal.”

Bragg went on to call white collar crime such as this the “bread and butter” of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, as it’s situated in the heart of the U.S. financial district. 

“My office, including the talented prosecutors you saw at that arrangement earlier today, have charged hundreds of felony falsifying business records,” he said. 

Bragg concluded by saying, “As this office has done time and time again, we today uphold our solemn responsibility to ensure everyone stands equal before the law. No amount of money and no amount of power changes that enduring American principal.”

Meanwhile, Trump attorney Todd Blanche told reporters outside the courthouse that the indictment was “boilerplate” and did not “allege any federal crime and state crime that’s been violated.”

He added during his brief comments that Trump is “frustrated” and “upset.” 

“It’s not a good day…I don’t expect this to happen in this country. You don’t expect this to happen…to somebody who was the President of the United States,” Blanche said.

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