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Trump prosecutor struggling to convince grand jury to charge former president as public opinion sours

By Sarah May
|
March 23, 2023

Despite widespread reports that the arrest of former President Donald Trump was likely to occur this week, sources now suggest that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is having a hard time convincing a sufficient number of grand jurors to issue an indictment, as the Daily Mail explains.

The news comes as the grand jury was informed that their services were not needed on Wednesday, only to be told Thursday that they would not reconvene for the remainder of the week, as the Mail noted separately.

Unexplained delay

While Bragg's office did not provide a reason for the decision not to convene the grand jury for the rest of the week, sources told the Mail that it was due to issues with the underlying allegations against Trump, including recent questions surrounding the credibility of his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who has become one of the prosecution's key witnesses.

“They are having trouble convincing the jury to swallow the case. It's a weak case and has caused divisions in the D.A.'s office,” once such source declared.

The notion that Bragg was encountering problems with his case was echoed by Trump himself, who posted to his Truth Social platform, “The Rogue prosecutor, who is having a hard time with the Grand Jury, especially after the powerful testimony against him by Felon Cohen's highly respected former lawyer, is attempting to build a case that has NEVER BEEN BROUGHT BEFORE AND ACTUALLY CAN'T BE BROUGHT.”

Trump took further aim at Bragg, saying, “If he spends his time, effort, and money on fighting VIOLENT CRIME, which is destroying NYC, our once beautiful and safe Manhattan, which has become an absolute HELLHOLE, would be a much better place to live!”

House GOP seeks testimony

As NBC News notes, Trump was not the only one casting aspersions on Bragg's case and the potential motivations behind it, with three Republican committee heads sending the D.A. a formal request that he appear before Congress to testify “about what plainly appears to be a politically motivated prosecutorial decision.”

“You are reportedly about to engage in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority: the indictment of a former president of the United States and current declared candidate for that office,” the chairmen wrote.

The letter continued, “If these reports are accurate, your actions will erode confidence in the evenhanded application of justice and unalterably interfere in the course of the 2024 presidential election.”

In response, a representative of Bragg's office refused cooperation with the aforementioned probe, as the New York Post notes, stating that “the District Attorney is obliged by the federal and state constitutions to protect the independence of state law enforcement functions from federal interference.”

Electorate unconvinced

It is not just Trump and those surrounding him who have slammed Bragg for potentially bringing a case that the U.S. Department of Justice choose not to attempt, with a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll on the topic shedding light on the views of rank-and-file voters, according to The Hill.

The survey found that approximately half of all participants agreed with the notion that any indictment of Trump by the Manhattan D.A. would be “politically motivated.”

A staggering eight out of ten Republican respondents said that criminal charges against Trump coming out of Bragg's office would be the result of political animus.

On the Democrats' side of things, 32% of survey participants concurred that a Trump indictment would be rooted largely in political considerations.

Experts unsurprised

A number of legal experts have weighed in over the past week and explained why they do not find it surprising that Bragg would be having trouble making his case, with George Washington Law School professor Jonathan Turley noting, “One would say Bragg is outside of his lane, but in this case, he's on a completely different highway. This is an effort by a state official to effectively prosecute a federal crime, a crime that the Department of Justice decided not to pursue,” adding his belief that the relevant statutes of limitations have likely run.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy was also skeptical of the D.A.'s case, adding, “Bragg is engaged in bare-naked politics. This case is not merely unworthy of as a prosecution of Trump...it is also a case that everyone knows Bragg would never bring against anyone other than Trump...[t]his is classic, invidious selective prosecution.”

Longtime criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman declared, according to Rolling Stone, “This case is a joke, frankly, and I've litigated against that office for 33 years. I don't think that case is winnable.”

Lichtman continued, “I loathe Trump for a variety of reasons, but it's still America, and we still have to be concerned about cases brought against people we don't like, because the next day it's going to be cases against people we do like.”