Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said after former President Trump was arraigned Tuesday that his office won’t normalize “serious criminal conduct.”
“Earlier this afternoon, Donald Trump was arraigned on a New York Supreme Court indictment returned by a Manhattan grand jury on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree,” Bragg said.
“Under New York state law is a felony to falsify business records with intent to defraud and intent to conceal another crime. That is exactly what this case is about. 34 false statements made to cover up other crimes,” Bragg said. “These are felony crimes in New York State. No matter who you are, we cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.”
In July 2022, Bragg initially sought a second-degree murder charge against bodega worker Jose Alba, who was seen on surveillance camera stabbing Austin Simon in what appears to be self-defense. Simon is seen in the video coming behind the cashiers’ desk on July 1, 2022 and attacked Alba.
After significant backlash, Bragg’s office dropped the charge.
NYC PROSECUTOR BEHIND TRUMP INDICTMENT HAS FACED REPEATED CRITICISM FOR BEING SOFT ON CRIME
In another instance, the Manhattan district attorney reduced charges against William Rolon, who allegedly stole over $2,000 worth of merchandise and medicine from a store in January 2022. While Rolon was armed with a knife, his charges were reduced to petit larceny, a misdemeanor, according to FOX 5.
Prosecutors also reduced charges against the same suspect in a separate robbery at TJ Maxx on Jan. 7, 2022.
In 2022, Bragg’s first year as Manhattan district attorney, the prosecutor reduced more than half of felony cases to misdemeanors.
Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree on Tuesday. Typically, falsifying business records is considered a misdemeanor charge but rises to a felony when a defendant’s “intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.”
TRUMP FACES MAXIMUM SENTENCE OF 136 YEARS IN PRISON FOR 34-COUNT INDICTMENT
During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Bragg was asked why the second alleged concealed crime wasn’t specified in the indictment.
“Let me say as an initial matter that the indictment doesn’t specify it because the law does not so require. In my remarks, I mentioned a couple of laws which I will highlight again now,” Bragg said. “The first is New York state election law, which makes it a crime to conspire to promote a candidacy by unlawful means. I further indicated a number of unlawful means, including additional false statements, including statements that were planned to be made to tax authorities. I also noted the federal election law cap on contribution limits.”
Bragg accused Trump as well as his associates of using a “catch and kill” scheme to possibly bury potentially damaging information that came ahead of the election in 2016.
“Trump then went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws,” Bragg alleged. “In total, 34 false entries were made in New York business records to conceal the initial covert $130,000 payment.”
Fox News’ Paul Best, Danielle Wallace, and Emma Colton contributed to this report.
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