Alvin Bragg has already written one history first, taking office on Saturday as the first Manhattan district attorney. Now he has another step: to make Donald Trump the first president ever to be charged with a crime.
As a regional attorney, Bragg inherited Trump’s investigation and his business practices from his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., who refused to seek re-election last year after 12 years in top-notch work.
After weeks of speculation over whether Vance would step down in his slogan by ousting Trump, the former DA appealed the decision to Bragg, a 48-year-old human rights lawyer and former party prosecutor who was sworn in at a private party, in part because of Covid's concerns.
Bragg told CNN last month he would be directly involved in the Trump affair. He also asked for two veteran prosecutors leading the case under Vance - Attorney General Carey Dunne and former mafia prosecutor Mark Pomerantz - to proceed with the trial.
“Obviously this is a consequent case, worthy of consideration by the D.A. personally, "Bragg told CNN.
The investigation led to a lawsuit filed last summer by Trump's company, the Trump Organization, and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. In the fall, Vance summoned a new judge to hear the evidence in the case.
Trump himself is still being investigated by the office after Vance led a multi-year war to gain access to Republican tax records.
As New York's top attorney general in 2018, Bragg helped preside over a case that led to the closure of Trump's aid base for allegedly using a non-profit organization to further his political and business interests.
Bragg, amid a growing wave of progressive, revolutionary prosecutors across the country, defeated Thomas Kenniff of the Republic in November after winning the Democratic Alliance primary election in the spring.
Bragg campaigned in part with the promise of changing the culture of the district attorney's office. Drawing on his experience growing up in Harlem during the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s, Bragg said he wanted to “reduce the system,” refusing to pursue many lower-level cases and looking for other ways to prosecute minor “poverty cases.”
When he was 15, a police officer pointed a gun at his face and accused him of being a drug dealer as he went to buy groceries for his father. Bragg filed a complaint against his parents' pleas, which sparked an interest in the law.
He has put a knife to his throat. In his old age, he opened his house to his brother-in-law, who had just been released from prison. At times, says Bragg, a group of soldiers appeared looking for a counter, knocking on the door and waking his children.
Bragg spent the last days of his campaign participating in an unusual court investigation into the death of Eric Garner, his plea "I can't breathe" to the police who dragged him down the street into a Black Lives cry. Protesters story in 2014. Bragg called it the "most important emotional case" of his career.
As the DA's nominee, Bragg said voters had given him "a lot of confidence."
"The important role of the district attorney is to ensure both justice and security," Bragg told his supporters on election night.
"That trust that I have been given by vote, but given to all of us - that is what we have worked for - to show the city and the country a model of co-operation, pairing fairness and security into one."