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The DA viewed the case against Trump as possible "Charge ready" Many years ago

In a November 2020 interview with CBS News, Alvin BraggA Democratic candidate for Manhattan district attorney at the time, said that among the “surprising” number of cases “swirling” around then-President Donald Trump, one involving Trump’s former “fixer” Michael Cohen stood out.

“You know, we still haven’t talked about Michael Cohen and the campaign finance part,” Bragg said during the interview, where he insisted he couldn’t “prejudge” a case until he had evidence.

A former New York state deputy attorney general who previously clashed with Trump’s company in civil cases, Bragg indicated that he followed media coverage of Cohen’s federal case.

Cohen entered a guilty plea in 2018 to federal tax evasion and campaign-finance violations. $130,000 in “hush money” payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Cohen, who was previously Trump’s lawyer, was sentenced to 3 years in prison. She has since said the former president directed her to pay him to keep Daniels from speaking publicly about an alleged affair and to cover up the payment — allegations Trump has vehemently denied.

Charging documents in Cohen’s case describe him as conspiring with a man known as “Person-1,” an alleged “co-conspirator” who was not named but who became president of the United States in 2017.

Bragg mentioned the “Individual-1” moniker in a 2020 interview.

“If the reporting on this is correct and you know, I mean, there was a charging device in the Southern District of New York where apparently the President was Person-1, right?” Bragg said, later adding, “One was a co-conspirator who pleaded guilty and, you know, said the president was his co-conspirator.”

“And so, presumably, the evidence is there. And if it’s a matter of prosecutorial discretion, I mean, if they’ve already said it in a charging instrument. So I guess it could be, you know, right and charge ready,” Bragg said. .

It’s a case, Bragg noted, that federal prosecutors chose not to pursue against Trump.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during an interview in New York, Dec. 15, 2022.

Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images

in candidates For the DA, Bragg was perhaps the most battle-tested against Trump and his company. In the New York Attorney General’s office, he oversaw multiple offensives Legal battle with the Trump Organizationincluding a case against Trump Foundation — which accused the president and his children of using the nonprofit as a “personal checkbook” — and another against the now-defunct Trump University, which claimed the school used illegal business practices and made false claims to prospective students.

Bragg was elected Manhattan district attorney in November 2021, inheriting the Trump investigation office from his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr. Under Vance. investigationWhat began as an investigation into the Daniels payments in 2018 turned into a broader examination of Trump’s finances — an investigation challenged in the Supreme Court by then-President Trump.

Early in his tenure, when the investigation came into question Two prosecutors leading the investigation have resigned. In a resignation letter first reported by The New York Times, the former special assistant district attorney Mark Pomerantz wrote that Bragg “has decided not to proceed with a grand jury presentation and not seek criminal charges at this time.”

“The investigation has been suspended indefinitely,” Pomerantz wrote.

But Bragg’s office insisted on an investigation remains active.

In August 2022, his office secured a Guilty pretext Stemming from the same investigation into the tax fraud case of former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weiselberg – making Weiselberg the prosecution’s star witness in the trials of two Trump Organization companies.

There were two companies found guilty Dec. 6 of 17 criminal counts related to tax fraud and other crimes.

By then, investigators from Bragg’s office had turned to Daniels’ payments. In the months that followed, a stream of former Trump staffers and White House staffers were questioned by a grand jury looking into the deal.

Among them were the prosecution’s apparent star witnesses: Cohen, who has met with prosecutors about a dozen times this year, and Testified before the grand jury About five hours over two days in mid-March.

Cohen and his attorney, Lanny Davis, described prosecutors as “thorough” and “professional” and acknowledged they believe he is a key witness against Trump.

Cohen described wiring the money through a newly formed limited liability company in October 2016. Cohen and Daniels claimed that he and Trump agreed to a non-disclosure agreement using the aliases David Dennison and Peggy Peterson.

The possible case is described by Pomerantz in his recent memoir. Pomerantz said prosecutors in the office believe Daniels’ payments indicate falsifying business records, a misdemeanor that he said could be charged as a felony under New York law if the intent was to conceal a second crime: in this case, an alleged illegal campaign contribution.

In recent days, Trump has repeatedly denied the case and criticized Bragg on his social media platforms, calling it a politically motivated “witch hunt.” Trump has called for protests if accused.

“There was no crime, period,” the 2024 Republican presidential candidate wrote Sunday. “Prosecutorial Misconduct and Interference with an Election.”

Attorneys for Trump wanted a defense witness to be heard by the grand jury on Monday, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Bragg’s office asked one rebuttal witness to stay nearby and be ready if needed: Michael Cohen.

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