Trump hater George Will goes after DA Bragg in surprising WaPo column, says partisan prosecution is proof prosecutors should be appointed instead of elected

 June 14, 2024

Following his conviction last month in New York, former President Donald Trump and others have accused Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of leading a politically motivated prosecution, evidenced in part by Bragg's campaign vows during a partisan primary election to thoroughly investigate Trump for alleged crimes and hold him "accountable."

Conservative columnist George Will suggested in The Washington Post that Bragg's campaign promises in the Democratic primary to go after the former Republican president are proof that "electing prosecutors is a terrible idea."

Even George Will was disgusted by Bragg's partisan prosecution of Trump

In the rather surprising column, given Will's general antipathy toward former President Trump, the conservative writer excoriated the progressive prosecutor for the seemingly overt political motivations behind the effort to convict the presumptive Republican nominee in an election year several years after an alleged crime occurred.

He lambasted Bragg's elevation of a single alleged misdemeanor into 34 felony counts, critiqued the "puzzling" theory of how 2017 repayments for a perfectly legal 2016 hush money payment somehow illegally influenced that election, and ripped the local prosecutor for trying Trump over alleged federal crimes that are not in his jurisdiction and had been passed on by federal prosecutors.

Will also pointed out that Bragg, who otherwise seems loathe to fully prosecute actual criminals in Manhattan, was elected in a heavily Democratic area and needed to please the "constituents mostly hostile to his defendant" who placed him in office, in large part because of his vows to go after Trump, which will likely also encourage him to seek incarceration for the elderly first-time offender when sentencing is determined next month.

The massive power of prosecutors is why they shouldn't be elected

All of that and more led Will to cite extensively from a 1940 speech by then-U.S. Attorney Robert Jackson, who would go on to become a Supreme Court justice, about the incredible power prosecutors wield over the "life, liberty, and reputation" of those they choose to target for prosecution.

"While the prosecutor at his best is one of the most beneficent forces in our society, when he acts from malice or other base motives, he is one of the worst," Jackson said, according to Will, which is one of the reasons why federal prosecutors are typically appointed and confirmed in a bipartisan fashion by the executive and legislative branches instead of elected by local partisan constituents.

Jackson further warned that a partisan prosecutor could target an individual "he dislikes or desires to embarrass" with any number of various laws on the books, and stated, "It is here that law enforcement becomes personal, and the real crime becomes that of being unpopular with the predominant or governing group, being attached to the wrong political views, or being personally obnoxious to or in the way of the prosecutor himself."

Will surmised that the description appeared to fit DA Bragg, and ended his column with a damning parting shot from Jackson's speech decades ago, in which he observed, "The qualities of a good prosecutor are as elusive and as impossible to define as those which mark a gentleman. And those who need to be told would not understand it anyway."

Promising to go after Trump was an integral part of Bragg's election campaign

There is little doubt that DA Bragg made the future prosecution of former President Trump a central part of his 2021 election campaign that began in 2019, according to Newsweek, with his repeated recitation of the prosecutorial resume against Trump that he'd already established in other positions.

"I have investigated Trump and his children and held them accountable for their misconduct with the Trump Foundation. I also sued the Trump administration more than 100 times for the travel ban, the separation of children from their families at the border," Bragg told Manhattan voters. "So I know that work. I know how to follow the facts and hold people in power accountable."

Last year, the politically biased PolitiFact attempted to debunk the accusations of political motivation against Bragg by drawing a nuanced distinction in his words -- Bragg never specifically vowed to indict Trump -- but only ended up bolstering the case that the elected prosecutor is partisan.

Bragg even went so far as to draw comparisons between Trump and his adult sons with the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein, given that they were all "rich old white men" who'd been "allowed" by the double standards of the justice system to "evade accountability in Manhattan" -- even as Bragg insisted at another point that he had not pre-judged Trump's alleged guilt or innocence.

Finally, after he'd been elected in part on the vows to investigate and prosecute Trump, but before he actually took office, CNN reported in December 2021 that Bragg pledged that he would "personally" oversee any and all prosecutorial actions against the former president that were already in play or would come up in the future, once more displaying his partisan motivations that would prove deeply consequential just a few years later.

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