Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday declined to say whether he has confidence in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) ahead of an expected indictment of former President Trump.
Asked if he had confidence in Bragg, Schumer answered: “Look, the bottom line, is — as I said — it’s premature to comment on what’s happening and we’ll have to wait and see what he does.”
Schumer is keeping his distance from speculation about whether Bragg will indict Trump for a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, has pleaded guilty to a charge connected to the payment but other prosecutors have declined to pursue charges against Trump himself.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who faces a tough reelection in 2024, warned that bringing charges against Trump may backfire on Democrats by making it look they’re using the courts to hurt political opponents.
“There’s many reasons not to support Donald Trump. There’s many reasons why Donald Trump should not be president again of the United States but you should not allow the court system to be viewed as a political pawn,” Manchin told reporters Tuesday.
“I think it would basically have the reverse effect as what some people would think, not for the good,” he said.
Republicans meanwhile, have trained their fire on Bragg, who has come under criticism for telling prosecutors in his office that incarceration should be a “matter of last resort” and they should only seek prison sentences for serious crimes such as murder.
The Crime Research Prevention Center found that prosecutors have been less like to prosecute felonies and less likely to pursue jail sentences for misdemeanors under Bragg.
And prosecutors under Bragg have won a lower percentage of serious felony cases compared to his predecessor, former District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.
Republican lawmakers have seized on what they called Bragg’s “soft-on-crime” policies to make the argument that his prosecution of Trump is politically motivated.
“Questions are being asked by a lot of our members and for that matter people all across the country about the prioritization of this DA of this issue over what are very current and real law-enforcement issues in their city,” Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) told reporters Wednesday.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has slammed Bragg’s case as “legally frivolous” and a “transparently political indictment.”
Cruz says Bragg’s case, which is thought to revolve around a state law related to falsifying business records, is weak and convoluted because it is ordinarily a misdemeanor and has already passed the statute of limitations.
Bumping it up to a felony would require connecting it to a campaign finance violation, which Cruz notes which federal prosecutors have never pursued.