In a November 2020 interview with CBS News,The Democratic candidate for Manhattan district attorney said that among the “shocking” number of cases surrounding then-President Donald Trump, the one involving Trump’s former “fixer” Michael Cohen stood out.
“You know, we haven’t talked about Michael Cohen and the campaign finance part yet,” Brock said during the interview, in which he insisted he could not “prejudge” any case until he saw the evidence.
Bragg, a former New York state deputy attorney general who has previously clashed with Trump’s firm in civil cases, noted 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.For adult film star Stormy Daniels. Cohen, who was previously Trump’s lawyer, was sentenced to 3 years in prison. She said the former president ordered payments to Daniels to prevent her from speaking publicly about an allegation and to cover up the payments — allegations Trump has vehemently denied.
The charging document in Cohen’s case describes his conspiracy with an individual referred to as “Individual-1,” an alleged “co-conspirator” who was not named in the document but became the president of the United States in 2017.
Bragg referred to the “Individual-1” moniker in a 2020 interview.
“The report on that is accurate and, if you know, the charging apparatus was in the Southern District of New York, where the president is individual-1, right?” Bragg said, “The co-conspirator of someone who pleaded guilty and you know the president is his co-conspirator.”
“So, presumably, the evidence is there. If it’s kind of, the prosecutor’s discretion, I mean, if they’ve already said that in the charging instrument, I assume that’s accurate. And the charge is ready,” Bragg said.
It was a case, Bragg noted, that federal prosecutors chose not to pursue against Trump.
in the middleFor the DA, Bragg is the most battle-tested against Trump and his company. In the New York Attorney General’s office, he oversaw several raids including a case against — which accused the president and his children of using the nonprofit as a “personal checkbook” — and another against the now-shuttered Trump University, which said the school used illegal business practices and made false claims to potential students.
Brock was elected Manhattan district attorney in November 2021, taking over the office’s Trump investigation from his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr. Under Vance.What began as an investigation into Daniels’ money in 2018 grew into a comprehensive probe of Trump’s finances — an investigation that was taken to the Supreme Court by then-President Trump.
Early in his tenure, the investigation was questioned. In a resignation letter, The New York Times reported, the former special assistant district attorney Bragg wrote that he “has reached the decision not to move forward with a grand jury presentation and will not seek criminal charges at this time.”
“The investigation is suspended indefinitely,” Pomerantz wrote.
But the Prague office insisted on an investigation.
In August 2022, his office aThe same trial stemmed from the tax fraud case of Alan Weiselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer — and turned Weiselberg into a prosecution witness in the trial of two Trump Organization companies.
There were two companiesOn December 6 in 17 criminal cases related to tax evasion and other offences.
By then, investigators in Bragg’s office had turned to the Daniels charge. Months later, a stream of former Trump staffers and White House staffers were investigated by a grand jury about the deal.
Among them was the prosecution’s apparent star witness: Cohen, who has met with lawyers nearly a dozen times this year.About five hours over two days in mid-March.
Cohen and his lawyer, Lanny Davis, have described the prosecutors as “thorough” and “professional,” adding that they believe he is a key witness against Trump.
Cohen described wiring the money in October 2016 through a newly formed limited liability company. Cohen and Daniels have said they and Trump agreed to a non-disclosure agreement using the aliases David Dennison and Becky Peterson.
Pomerantz described a possible case in his recent memoir. Pomerantz said prosecutors in the office believe Daniels’ payments represent falsification of business records, a misdemeanor he says could be charged under New York law if intended to cover up a second crime: in this case, an illegal campaign contribution.
In recent days, Trump has repeatedly denied the case and criticized Bragg on his social media site, calling it a politically motivated “witch hunt.” He has called for protests if Trump is impeached.
“No offense, period,” the 2024 Republican presidential nominee wrote Sunday. “Prosecutor Misconduct and Election Interference.”
Trump’s lawyers asked a defense witness to be questioned by a grand jury on Monday, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
Bragg’s office asked the rebuttal witness to be nearby and ready if needed: Michael Cohen.