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Tipsheet

Politico: Why, This Alvin Bragg Character Is Quite an Apolitical, By-the-Book Prosecutor

AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

C'mon.  Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is many things -- but a by-the-book scrupulous eschewer of politics and political agendas he certainly is not.  He is famous for infusing his whole job with his ideological agenda, occasionally walking back controversial decisions or declarations under pressure.  Political pressure, that is.  And to frame Bragg as a strict, "by the book" prosecutor, as an earlier version of this story's headline did, is preposterous.  He's been notorious for downgrading an outright majority of felony charges to misdemeanors during his tenure, straining the limits of discretion.  It's what Soros-bankrolled DA's are doing all across the country.  But he's finally found someone against whom he wants to labor to increase, not decrease charges.  And that someone just happens to be a polarizing former President of the United States from the opposite party.  So very apolitical:

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It appears as though they swapped out "by the book" for "liberal" in that headline, amid criticism.  The initial goal seemed to be to present Bragg as just a tough-as-nails, serious, no-nonsense prosecutor refusing to be intimidated by the "brash, mudslinging" Trump.  Bragg is, in fact, a soft-on-crime, unserious, much-nonsense prosecutor whose approach to law enforcement has often involved doing quite the opposite of what's actually, well, on the books:

Just days after taking office, Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg released a memo detailing new charging, bail, plea and sentencing policies that he said he believes will make the city safer and the criminal justice system more fair, yet the plan faces criticism from police union leaders. Among the crimes Bragg said his office would not prosecute: marijuana misdemeanors, including selling more than three ounces; not paying public transportation fare; trespassing except a fourth degree stalking charge, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration in certain cases, and prostitution. Misdemeanor offenses that are legally required to be given a “desk appearance ticket” will be offered diversion or community-based programs intended to help an offender, the memo said. The office may also decline to prosecute the offense.

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You can describe that policy many ways, but "by the book" is not one of them.  But Politico deleted that descriptor.  So how about the "politics averse" assertion, mentioned in the story this way: "According to those who know Bragg, he is, occasionally to his detriment, uninterested in political calculations and generally indifferent to the types of public-relations offenses Trump likes to wage"?  He's apolitical to a fault, you see, according to those who know him.  Well, here's another news account, published roughly a month after the article quoted immediately above:

Taking a tougher stance on the prosecution of gun possession and robbery, the Manhattan district attorney on Friday officially revised several policies that had been fiercely criticized as too lenient, marring his first month in office. Days after taking office on Jan. 1, the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, instructed prosecutors in a memo to avoid seeking jail time for all but the most serious crimes. The document prompted weeks of pushback from police officers, small business owners and public officials, making Mr. Bragg a political target. Much of his time since has been devoted to clarifying and modifying the policies outlined in the document, which had instructed prosecutors to avoid seeking jail time for certain crimes including robbery, assault and gun possession. With the release of the updates on Friday, Mr. Bragg completed the pivot that he started to make shortly after the backlash began....Last week, Mr. Bragg met with Gov. Kathy Hochul, some of whose political opponents have called for the district attorney’s removal. Ms. Hochul said that the conversation had been constructive.

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So on day one, he injected his radical politics into the way Manhattan enforces (or doesn't enforce) laws, then found himself under immense political pressure, including a meeting with the governor, and he magically reversed his political decisions, due to political criticism. But he's super apolitical, just ask his buddies.  He may be able to resist "public-relations offenses" from people like Trump, but he's apparently very responsive to them in other political contexts.  There's that word again.  The Washington Examiner also notes Bragg's history of highlighting his sparring against Trump, for political reasons:

Even before becoming Manhattan’s DA, Bragg focused on the former president, his businesses, and his foundation as a top official in the New York attorney general’s office. Bragg helped spearhead a lawsuit against the Trump Foundation while Trump was president, leading to the closure of the foundation and a court-ordered payment from Trump of $2 million. The Manhattan prosecutor boasted of his experience with Trump in April 2022 in a statement about the progress of investigations into the Trump Organization, Trump’s business umbrella. “Litigation involving the former president himself is not foreign to me,” Bragg said. “As the Chief Deputy at the New York State Attorney General’s Office, I oversaw the successful litigation against the former president, his family, and the Trump Foundation.” Bragg was even blunter while campaigning in 2021 for the job of DA, claiming that he had helped sue Trump more than 100 times during his presidency.In December, Bragg touted trial convictions and guilty pleas resulting from his office’s investigations into the Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corp., both of which faced charges related to tax fraud.
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Boasting about doing legal battle with a political figure that your would-be constituents mostly loathe, while campaigning for their votes?  How extremely non-political.  Typical of a man who is "uninterested in political calculations," is it not?  Of course, the fact that Bragg is reportedly likely to indict Trump (possibly as soon as today), is the best and most glaring proof of his politicization.  He looked at the exact same evidence that multiple other prosecutors and investigators examined -- all of whom decided there wasn't a good case to be made -- and has apparently decided to use what the New York Times calls an "untested" and "risky" legal theory in order to fulfill Bragg's base's long-held fantasy of an indictment against a man they despise.  "Politics-averse," concludes Politico.  As for Trump, he and his political team are said to be enjoying the storm:

There’s no such thing as bad publicity when you’re Donald Trump. Spies tell Page Six that The Donald is in “high spirits” in advance of his possible arrest and indictment this week. Sources even say Trump wants his potential arrest to be a high-profile affair for maximum exposure. A source said of Trump’s team, “They are very pumped about this … The Manhattan DA, NYPD and even the Department of Justice were trying to work out a quiet handover coordinated with the Secret Service — and Trump was having none of that. If an indictment and arrest happens, he wants it to be public.” ... We are even told that Trump’s people are planning to “try and film and document it with their own camera crew, they want a shot of him in cuffs and will release the mugshot. They are loving this stuff.” Meanwhile, spies tell Page Six that Trump is at his private Palm Beach, Fla., fiefdom, where he’s “reveling in being back in the news and the center of attention. He thinks this ‘trumped-up charge’ will help him with his base.”  The political insider further told us Trump and his team are “nervous” about likely primary rival Gov. Ron De Santis‘ election prospects, and think the arrest would bolster Trump’s campaign because they think “this will show that the Dems are out to persecute Trump.” The source also told us, “Trump will be getting all the media. He will argue he is the leader of the party and has the best shot against [President] Biden, which is why he is being attacked … His people are licking their chops, they are pumped. Next thing he’ll be doing is a rally.”

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It's all anonymous sourcing in that New York Post piece, so some caveats apply, but that very much sounds like him.


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