As Trump inquiry looms, Democrats vie for Manhattan district attorney
June 22 (Reuters) – An overcrowded group of Democrats were vying on Tuesday to become Manhattan’s next prosecutor, a post that under normal circumstances is already considered one of the nation’s largest and most scrutinized prosecutors.
This year, however, the winner of the primary election will likely inherit the ongoing criminal investigation by the office of former President Donald Trump’s business empire, which was launched in 2018 under the tenure of Cyrus Vance Jr.
The competition also comes amid a nationwide debate over criminal justice, race and civil rights, even as the city faces an upsurge in crime that put public safety at the center of Tuesday’s municipal elections.
Sparse public polls suggest the top two candidates are Alvin Bragg, a former black federal prosecutor and civil rights lawyer, and Tali Farhadian Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor and former Justice Department official who recently served as General Counsel. from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. .
Weinstein, who is seen as more moderate than most of the other candidates, has the backing of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former US attorney general Eric Holder. She has raised far more than any other candidate, thanks to her connections to Wall Street through her husband, hedge fund manager Boaz Weinstein.
Bragg, who garnered the support of progressives such as Boston District Attorney Rachael Rollins, attempted to strike a balance between preserving civil liberties and protecting public safety.
Tuesday’s winner will be overwhelmingly favorite to win the November general election in Manhattan, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by far.
A victory for Bragg or Weinstein would mark a historic first: there has never been a black or female district attorney in Manhattan.
Office turnover is unusual; the next district attorney will be only the third in nearly 50 years. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office employs 500 lawyers and has an annual budget of approximately $ 125 million; thanks to the Wall Street location in Manhattan, the office oversees a wide range of financial crimes.
Unlike the mayoral election, voters will not use a priority voting system, which allows them to rank multiple candidates in order of preference. Read more
Candidates largely refrained from offering specific thoughts on the Trump inquiry. But Bragg often reminded voters during the election campaign that he helped prosecute the Trump administration “over a hundred times” as an assistant in the New York state attorney general’s office.
In an interview with Reuters earlier this year, Weinstein said: “No one is above the law, no matter who you are or what position you have held.”
Whoever wins is likely to become a target for Trump, who called the investigation a “witch hunt” and personally attacked Vance.
The winner will also have the opportunity to change prosecution policies in the nation’s largest city, following widespread protests last year against policing and racial injustice.
Most of the candidates pledged to prosecute fewer low-level crimes as part of a larger effort to tackle racial prejudice. Read more
Bragg told Reuters earlier this year that more than 80% of the city’s criminal record consists of misdemeanors or misdemeanors.
“We need to drastically reduce this footprint,” he said. “A lot of these cases have absolutely nothing to do with public safety.”
Weinstein also said she would reduce the number of cases by refusing to prosecute those who do not advance public safety. But she also said she would use resources to keep New Yorkers safe.
Thomas Kenniff, a former Westchester County District Attorney and Iraq War veteran who is now a criminal defense attorney, is running unopposed for the Republican nomination.
Report by Joseph Ax; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Aurora Ellis
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