Commentary: DeSantis Goes After Bragg and Crime Rather Than Offering Full Throated Defense of Trump

AP Photo

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

New York, NY – As we wait to see whether New York prosecutors would pull the trigger on indicting former President Donald Trump, I was intrigued to see how Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the still undeclared likely challenger to Trump for the Republican nomination, would respond to the charges.

DeSantis clearly has to tread a fine line—wanting to weaken Trump without alienating his still large Republican base of supporters that DeSantis would need if he wins the nomination.

Indeed, this week, DeSantis offered what is clearly a half-hearted defense of Trump.

In the NY Times article, he clearly treaded lightly on the actual charges, but went after Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, who was a civil rights attorney and ran as a clear progressive reformer.

“But I do know this: The Manhattan district attorney is a Soros-funded prosecutor,” DeSantis said as reported by the NY Times.  “And so he, like other Soros-funded prosecutors, they weaponize their office to impose a political agenda on society at the expense of the rule of law and public safety.”

But other than that, it seemed like at most a half-hearted defense by DeSantis of the former President.

“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair,” Governor DeSantis said to chuckles from the crowd at a recent event.

“I just, I can’t speak to that,” he said. “But what I can speak to is that if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction, and he chooses to go back many, many years ago, to try to use something about porn star hush-money payments, you know, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office.”

He added, “And I think that that’s fundamentally wrong.” He said that the “real victims are ordinary New Yorkers” because of how Mr. Bragg handled his office. He accused the district attorney of “trying to virtue signal for his base.”

Clearly DeSantis feels on safe ground attacking Bragg but never really got to the heart of the charges—probably for good reason.

But while the Soros angle might give some fodder to the hardcore supporters of the Governor and former President, Bragg may prove more difficult to attack overall.

An insightful article by Erica Orden in Politico, illustrates the perils not only for Bragg, but in the efforts demonize him.

Orden writes, “Progressive policies pushed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg have made him a convenient target for Trump, who has a history of claiming bias by those investigating him.”

If Bragg’s office pulls the trigger, it will make him “the first prosecutor ever to bring criminal charges against a former American president. It’s a distinction that puts him in a high-profile but perilous spot.”

Trump and now DeSantis are attempting to paint “Bragg as a liberal firebrand” but Bragg remains almost the opposite of that, described as a “low-key, politics-averse prosecutor.”

Politico adds that “according to those who know Bragg, he is, occasionally to his detriment, uninterested in political calculations and generally indifferent to the types of public-relations offenses Trump likes to wage.”

“Alvin is generally a pretty unflappable guy,” said Martin S. Bell, a former federal prosecutor who worked with Bragg at the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office in the early 2010s told Politico. “From a demeanor standpoint, he will look roughly the same on Monday and on Wednesday despite the hurricane that rips through the office on Tuesday.”

Moreover, Bragg “isn’t a pushover.”

There is also this, the claim that Bragg’s reform efforts are “fueling crime” and “endangering police officers.”

DeSantis’ attack focused on this very point, “you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction.”

This has been a somewhat effective line used against progressive prosecutors elsewhere.  In San Francisco, Chesa Boudin was recalled.  An effort to do the same in Los Angeles to George Gascón narrowly failed last summer.

In Philadelphia, Republicans attempted to impeach Larry Krasner.  And in Florida, DeSantis himself suspended Andrew Warren based on his refusal to enforce criminal abortion laws.

But the tide might be shifting somewhat in New York.

Bragg’s office tweeted, “According to Bloomberg analysis, in Alvin Bragg’s first year in office, NYC had one of the lowest homicide rates of country’s 50 largest cities and was 10% lower than before he took office.”

Data released this year shows crime moving downward in NY after rising during the first couple of years of the pandemic.

None of this of course will stem the attempt by DeSantis to take on Bragg in areas where he is most comfortable—on the crime front rather than a frontal defense of Trump, but it may go a long way toward blunting some of the heat that Bragg will inevitably face.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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11 Comments

  1. Keith Olsen

    Bragg campaigned on going after Trump.  Talk about a witch hunt.  Democrat’s fervor in going after Trump is really getting old.  The feds looked into this years ago and decided not to prosecute.  It’s at worst a misdemeanor but Bragg is somehow trying to escalate it to a felony.  Didn’t Bill Clinton pay off Paula Jones to the sum of $850,000?  Many politicians have done the same.  I’m no Trump fan, I don’t think he can win in 2024.  DeSantis is my choice and I feel he’s playing this right.

    1. Walter Shwe

      Justice has begun on its long, slow and overdue way for the (Edited)! This represents a small victory for real American justice, not the decidedly Un-American justice practiced by Republicans. 👍

    1. Keith Olsen

      Your link has a paywall and I refuse to give the highly biased NY Times any money.

      How many times now have Democrats tried to go after Trump?  The public has become numb to most of the baseless accusations.  They thought they finally had him with the secret docs scandal until Biden was found with secret docs too.  OOPS!  You know that squelched any chance of the DOJ going after Trump because unless they go after Biden too it will look like a total political with hunt.

  2. Walter Shwe

    Bragg campaigned on going after Trump.  Talk about a witch hunt.

    Evidently the majority of voters agreed with Bragg about “going after Trump”. Clinton settled the lawsuit brought by Jones. It wasn’t strictly a payoff unless you consider all financial lawsuit settlements as payoffs.  That was public knowledge. Trump paid off a porn star to keep her quiet about an adulterous affair he had with her. Said woman never sued Trump.

    They thought they finally had him with the secret docs scandal until Biden was found with secret docs too.  OOPS!  You know that squelched any chance of the DOJ going after Trump because unless they go after Biden too it will look like a total political with hunt.

    Trump kept hundreds of classified documents. Both Biden and Pence only kept a handful. The National Archives repeatedly asked Tump to return said documents. He refused. After the National Archives and the DOJ had enough, federal prosecutors asked a judge for a search warrant because they had probable cause. When Biden and Pence realized they had classified documents they promptly returned them  The DOJ never went after Biden and Pence for that reason. There are big differences between Trump, Biden and Pence, not small ones. If you do the crime, especially if you do it to a great degree, you should expect to do the time. End of story.

    1. Walter Shwe

      Here are a few links that for the most part back what I previously said. There are still big differences between what Trump, Biden and Pence did.

      Former President Trump reportedly held on to more than 300 classified documents after leaving office, half of which were recovered in January by the National Archives, which alerted the Justice Department in what eventually led to the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago property.

      total number of known classified documents found since November is between 25 and 30, the source familiar with the inquiry said. This total includes those found at the Penn Biden Center and the Wilmington house.

      CNN first reported that a lawyer for Pence found last week about a dozen documents marked as classified at the former vice president’s home. The former vice president had directed his lawyer, Matt Morgan, who has experience handling classified material, to conduct the search.

      The discovery came after Pence had repeatedly said he did not have any classified documents in his possession.

      Pence said Friday that they determined there was a “small number of documents marked classified or sensitive interspersed in my personal papers,” and that they “immediately” secured the documents. They then notified the National Archives, turned over the documents to the FBI and communicated the finding to Congress, he said.

      https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/3611686-trump-held-more-than-300-classified-documents-since-leaving-white-house-report/

      https://www.cbsnews.com/news/doj-finds-6-more-classified-documents-search-biden-delaware-home-attorney-says/

      https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/27/politics/mike-pence-classified-documents/index.html

      1. Keith Olsen

        Former President Trump reportedly held on to more than 300 classified documents after leaving office, half of which were recovered in January by the National Archives, which alerted the Justice Department in what eventually led to the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago property.
        total number of known classified documents found since November is between 25 and 30, the source familiar with the inquiry said. This total includes those found at the Penn Biden Center and the Wilmington house.

        I don’t think the number of docs that were found is of all that much importance.  The DOJ has refused to release what actual docs Biden had.  What’s important is that they all had classified docs and the content of the docs should be considered too.

        1. Walter Shwe

          I believe that the number is important because it goes to intent. The DOJ has also not released what actual documents Trump and Pence were found. It may have to do with the fact that these documents are all classified.

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