A New York grand jury investigating hush payments made on Donald Trump’s behalf during the 2016 presidential campaign has refocused attention on the Manhattan district attorney steering the case. Alvin Bragg’s decision to convene the grand jury early this year could lead to the first criminal charge against a former U.S. president.
Here’s what you need to know about Bragg:
WHO IS THE MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY?
Alvin Bragg became Manhattan’s first Black district attorney in 2022, following his election in November 2021.
AS DISTRICT ATTORNEY, WHAT IS BRAGG’S JOB?
The district attorney’s office prosecutes nearly all criminal cases in Manhattan, leading an office of about 500 lawyers. A district attorney also is a key political figure, particularly in New York where cases often involve defendants with immense wealth, fame and influence.
ARE DISTRICT ATTORNEYS ELECTED?
Yes, Bragg won a tough Democratic primary and then the general election to become Manhattan’s district attorney. He took over for retiring District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
WHAT IS BRAGG’S LEGAL BACKGROUND?
Bragg’s career includes time as a federal prosecutor, an assistant attorney general for the state of New York and a civil rights attorney who represented Eric Garner’s mother as she pressured New York City officials for more accountability against the officers and commanders involved in her son’s 2014 death by a police chokehold.
Bragg’s campaign included promises to change the culture of the office and allied him with other progressive prosecutors aiming to eliminate cash bail.Shortly after taking office, he released a public memo promising the district attorney would no longer prosecute some low-level misdemeanor crimes.
Bragg, who grew up in Harlem, graduated from Harvard Law School.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT BRAGG’S INVOLVEMENT WITH A POSSIBLE TRUMP INDICTMENT?
Bragg inherited a yearslong grand jury investigation into hush money paid on Trump’s behalf during his 2016 presidential campaign.
After taking office, Bragg slowed down his office’s move toward an indictment against Trump and said he had concerns about the strength of the case. That sparked a public protest by two prosecutors who were leading the investigation and resigned.
But Bragg convened a new grand jury early this year after successfully convicting Trump’s family company for tax fraud. He called that result a “strong demarcation line” for proceeding with other parts of the probe.
In general, the grand jury process is seen as extremely favorable to prosecutors.
Proceedings are closed to the public and there is no judge. Prosecutors call and question witnesses and grand jurors — people drawn from the community — can ask questions. Grand jurors can either agree there is enough evidence to issue an indictment, find there is not enough evidence or tell the prosecutor to file lesser charges.