By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK, April 4 (Reuters) -
Donald Trump's indictment has thrust into the spotlight Alvin Bragg, the prosecutor whose office convinced a New York grand jury to bring the first criminal charges ever against a former U.S. president. Bragg, 49, took office in January 2022, the first Black person elected Manhattan District Attorney. Raised in New York City's Harlem neighborhood, Bragg decided to go to law school, he said, after having a gun pulled on him six times growing up, three of the times by police.
The charges against Trump, which have yet to be disclosed, emerged from an investigation into his role in a payment before the 2016 election to buy porn star to Stormy Daniels' silence about a sexual liaison she says she had with Trump a decade earlier. Trump denies having an affair.
A Republican, Trump has called the probe that led to his indictment politically motivated and posted a series of personal attacks against Bragg, a Democrat. The posts included a since-deleted photo of himself holding a baseball bat next to a photo of Bragg.
Trump's lawyer on Friday said the picture was not a threat.
A spokesperson for Bragg has said his office would not be "intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process" and would not let "baseless accusations deter us from fairly applying the law." After graduating from Harvard Law School, Bragg served as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan, where he handled fraud and money laundering cases. He later joined the New York state attorney general's office, where he oversaw a lawsuit that forced Trump's namesake foundation to dissolve. In 2021, Bragg won a crowded primary for the Democratic nomination to succeed Cyrus Vance as Manhattan District Attorney.
The primary race focused largely on reforming the criminal justice system by jailing fewer people and addressing racial bias, as well as on investigating Trump. "I've done this type of work under this type of scrutiny," Bragg said during the campaign, referring to the case against the Trump Foundation.
He cruised to victory in the general election in heavily liberal Manhattan. Late last year, Bragg's office won a conviction of the Trump Organization on charges of orchestrating a 15-year tax fraud, his office's biggest trial victory to date. Trump personally was not charged in the case. In January this year, Bragg's office began presenting evidence to the grand jury about the payment to Daniels, the porn star, reviving an investigation the district attorney's office started and stopped so many times it has come to be known as a "zombie case" like the mythical character who returns from the dead. Bragg came under criticism last year for declining to bring charges against Trump over his family real estate company's business practices. Those charges had been authorized by his predecessor, but Bragg said the case was not ready.
He also faced scrutiny for a plan to refrain from prosecuting some minor offenses, to reduce pretrial detention and to limit sentence length. Bragg argued that "over-incarceration" had not improved public safety. (Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld Editing by Noeleen Walder and Howard Goller)