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Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to be arraigned in a New York City court on Tuesday in a case involving hush money payments to an adult movie actress. Late last week, a jury in Manhattan indicted Trump on charges related to payments to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.
That is really all we really know for sure.
We don’t know what the charges are or what the indictment says. It remains sealed, as is the standard practice with grand juries.
That hasn’t stopped Trump, or his allies, from making all kinds of wild allegations about the indictment and the district attorney overseeing it.
The standard line from these folks – one used by Trump repeatedly about the many investigations into his conduct during his presidential campaigns and his time in office – is that this is a witch hunt. Trump, in fact, is using this very term to raise money from his supporters, supposedly for a 2024 presidential run.
Republicans have also smeared the district attorney, Alvin Bragg. Bragg, who had served as New York’s chief deputy attorney general and as an assistant U.S. attorney, was elected to his post in 2021, with more than 83 percent of the vote.
U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Kentucky, have threatened to investigate Bragg and his examinations of Trump and his conduct. Their demands could be an improper interference with a judicial investigation.
And, let’s remember Trump was not indicted by Bragg. Rather Bragg presented a case to a jury. Those people – everyday Americans from a New York City jury pool – saw and read evidence and heard from numerous witnesses. They then voted to indict Trump, on 34 counts according to news reports.
It is easy to attack Bragg. It is harder to attack the jurors who remain nameless and faceless so far.
One of the more egregious claims from Trump and his allies about this case is that the indictment was somehow engineered by billionaire financier George Soros, who has funded many left-leaning causes and organizations over the years. Just as rich men, like the Koch brothers and Robert Mercer, have funded those on the right.
Soros did contribute to a political action committee, Color of Change, that backed Bragg in his race to become the Manhattan district attorney. He did not donate money to Bragg directly nor did his PAC, and Color of Change backed many candidates across the country.
There is likely a nefarious reason that Soros gets so many mentions: He is Jewish.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, tweeted: “Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda.” Trump said shortly afterward that he would voluntarily appear in court in New York to be arraigned so DeSantis’ point was moot, yet still furthers an antisemitic dog whistle.
“Even if no antisemitic insinuation is intended, casting a Jewish individual as a puppet master who manipulates national events for malign purposes has the effect of mainstreaming antisemitic tropes and giving support, however unwitting, to bona fide antisemites and extremists who disseminate these ideas knowingly and with malice,” the Anti-Defamation League has warned.
While there is much we don’t yet know about the New York case, and the many other investigations into Trump that are ongoing, we do know that attacking the judicial system – and sounding antisemitic dog whistles – are inappropriate responses to an unprecedented time in U.S. history.