Ahead of an expected indictment against former US President Donald Trump, some Republicans are targeting the district attorney responsible. With an indictment, Alvin Bragg is giving in to the political pressure that others are putting on him, Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News. An indictment would "blow up the country".
Prosecutor Bragg is investigating the ousted ex-president over hush money payments to actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal. An indictment in the case seems increasingly likely and is expected in the near future. Trump had predicted Tuesday as the time of his "arrest". However, the US broadcaster CNN and other media reported that this is now expected in the coming week at the earliest.
Investigators are wondering whether Trump may have violated campaign finance laws by making the payment. Hush money is not illegal in the US, but the indictment could make Daniels' $130,000 and McDougal's $150,000 campaign donations illegal in New York state. Trump, who is again applying for a Republican presidential nomination, sees the procedure - like many other legal disputes - as a politically motivated "witch hunt".
"Unprecedented abuse of public prosecutor's powers"
Republicans from the US House of Representatives attacked prosecutor Bragg sharply. The chairmen of three key committees, Jim Jordan, James Comer and Bryan Steil, wrote in a letter released Monday that he was "in the process of committing an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial powers." Prosecutors denied the allegation, according to the Washington Post. You will not be deterred by "unfounded statements" from applying the law.
The prominent US Republican Ron DeSantis had accused Bragg of running a "political spectacle". When a prosecutor ignores everyday crimes and instead deals with a case from years ago involving hush money payments to porn stars, they are pursuing a "political agenda" and using their office as a weapon. "That's fundamentally wrong."
DeSantis is currently considered Trump's biggest internal competitor. He is also expected to run as a presidential candidate in the November 2024 election.
Trump's environment had assured in advance that the ex-president would follow the usual procedure should there be an indictment - and would also voluntarily appear in court to find out details of possible charges. This would not require a sensational arrest. It is considered likely that Trump could go home after such a formal procedure.
Grand jury decides indictment
The grand jury responsible for the case heard what the US media said was the last witness, lawyer Robert Costello, on Monday. In the United States, a jury decides whether to indict a case after the prosecutor has presented evidence. It is composed of citizens selected at random from voter records or other public records. Grand juries are usually involved when it comes to larger and more controversial cases.
Costello had fallen out with the prosecution's key witness, Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen. He now questions Cohen's credibility. "If you want to take action against Donald Trump and you have solid evidence, then so be it," he told reporters after he testified. But Cohen is far from being "solid evidence".
New York is bracing for possible protests if charges are filed. Security has been increased in front of the courthouse in downtown Manhattan, metal fences have been erected and the police presence increased. "We are monitoring the comments on social media," said New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
Trump had previously called for protests and claimed that he would be "arrested" this Tuesday. On Monday evening there was a small protest in front of the court, but there were no riots. The broadcaster CNBC reported that the US secret service, together with the New York police, adjusted security plans on Monday.
Trump's call for protests brought back memories of the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, when he goaded his supporters before they violently entered the Houses of Parliament in Washington.