He may make American history. Again. After becoming in 2022 the first black prosecutor in New York, Alvin Bragg is preparing to indict Donald Trump. This would be the first time that a former president has found himself criminally prosecuted in the United States.
It was Donald Trump himself who accredited the possibility of such a scenario on Saturday, March 18 in his inimitable style. Speaking of him in the third person, he announced that "the leading Republican candidate and former president of the United States will be arrested on Tuesday [March 21]."
Harlem at the time of the crack epidemic
Multiple media outlets have fueled this idea that Alvin Bragg's office was considering indicting Donald Trump in the case of bribes paid in 2016 to former pornographic actress Stormy Daniels.
Among the multiple legal swords of Damocles hanging over Donald Trump's head, the famous check for $ 160,000 paid to the former star of X to dissuade her from spreading their relationship in the middle of the electoral campaign is the one that falls first.
This prosecutor, who would therefore be the first to cross the Rubicon of an indictment, presents a profile that is similar, in many ways, to the antithesis of Donald Trump.
Because Alvin Bragg, in addition to his skin color, is also an assumed progressive, who has climbed all the rungs of the social elevator and ensures that he does not want to maintain any relationship with politics.
His trajectory, however, began in the same city: New York. But if the real estate mogul grew up in a large mansion in an upscale neighborhood, the young Alvin Bragg lived in Harlem, in the midst of the crack epidemic in the African-American communities of New York.
The future New York prosecutor has often recalled that before his 21st birthday he had already been played six times, "three times by police officers and three times by other individuals". He also recounted how he found a homicide victim on the doorstep of his apartment a little later.
His parents – from the middle class – did everything to get him out of this environment. They enrolled Alvin Bragg at Trinity School, one of New York's most popular private schools, at the age of four.
"The Chosen One"
The young man made his way to the no less prestigious Harvard University where he trained in law. On its release, the Harvard Crimson – the university's main newspaper – wrote a panegyric of the young graduate, soberly entitled "The anointed one".
As a lawyer, Alvin Bragg specialized in white-collar crime cases and civil rights advocacy. In 2021, these are also the ideas he will put forward by running for the position of prosecutor for all of New York County, one of the most important jurisdictions in the country.
He won the vote by dominating the favorite of the New York Democratic camp: Tali Farhadian Weinstein, very connected to the intellectual elite of Manhattan and the financial circles of New York.
Arriving at his post thanks to the support of the popular classes, he then pledged to fight "two-speed justice" and to take into account the needs of disadvantaged backgrounds as a priority. From the outset he hits hard – too hard for some: he tries to impose a policy of alternative sentences for certain minor offenses (such as the simple possession of a weapon without a license) in order to fight against prison overcrowding.
But in the face of an outcry from the police, the conservative media and some of the moderate Democrats in New York, he made an about-face in 2022. This is one of the few reversals of a man often described as "unperturbed" and "impervious to political pressure," says the site Politico.
This profile of a man of the people obsessed with the feeling of impunity of the rich and powerful makes that "the face-to-face with Donald Trump was inevitable," says CNN.
The Stormy Daniels case is not the first case in which the two men confront each other. Alvin Bragg boasted of having worked "on more than 100 files involving Donald Trump and his administration when he was president," says the British channel BBC.
Among his main feats of arms, this prosecutor succeeded, in 2019, in making Donald Trump pay two million dollars for fraud orchestrated by the Donald J. Trump Foundation. That same year, he defeated Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the entire Trump empire, for fraud. In 2022, Alvin Bragg also convicted Steve Bannon, one of Donald Trump's main political advisers, of embezzlement.
"Woke" and "Soros agent" for the far right
The former president therefore has every reason to fear an offensive by Alvin Bragg. He has launched a lightning media offensive to try to discredit the prosecutor whom he describes as "racist" (sic) and "woke" (pejorative term for conservatives to designate progressives).
Insults taken up by the ultra-conservative media, which have sometimes added a pinch of conspiracy. This is how Alvin Bragg finds himself reduced to an "agent of [George] Soros" for the Washington Examiner website. The Jewish-born Hungarian billionaire philanthropist is one of the central figures in many far-right conspiracy theories with anti-Semitic overtones.
But pro-Trump extremists aren't the only ones lashing out at Alvin Bragg. A part of moderate circles, conservatives as Democrats, also regrets that Donald Trump is caught up above all by a story of sex.
In the galaxy of legal pans of the ex-president, the Stormy Daniels case may seem secondary. Donald Trump is also accused of having incited an uprising against the Capitol and of illegally taking home documents classified as "defense secret" after leaving the White House. A Wall Street Journal editorial finds Alvin Bragg's anti-Trump crusade inappropriate and politically unwelcome.
For the prestigious economic daily, a first indictment of the former president in this case "would give rise to a media circus where the main witness of the prosecution – Michael Cohen – is the discredited former lawyer of Donald Trump". A battlefield that, for the newspaper, would suit the ex-president perfectly.
But for Kim Foxx, the prosecutor of Cook County (which includes Chicago), this kind of political calculation would escape Alvin Bragg. For him everything would be a "question of fairness and equality before justice," she told the New York Times. He would like to prove, according to her, that no one is above the law.
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