Atlanta and New York: Two cities, two Donald Trump investigations

Here’s the difference between Fulton DA Fani Willis’ and Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s investigations into the nation’s 45th president.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 7:38 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2023 at 2:14 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - While Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg made Donald Trump the first American ex-president in history to be criminally indicted, the nation’s 45th president has been under investigation for more than a year in Atlanta.

Last May, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis launched a special grand jury investigation into whether Trump attempted to overturn the outcome of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election, a contest that virtually propelled Joe Biden into the Oval Office. Biden won Georgia by less than 1 percent, thus becoming the first Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1992 to carry Georgia.

What’s the difference between the Atlanta and New York investigations into Trump?

The indictments

Atlanta: As yet, none. Willis has been investigating alleged interference by Donald Trump in the aftermath of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election for almost a year.

Last year, Willis opened a criminal investigation “into attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia General Election.” A special grand jury with subpoena power was seated in May 2022 at Willis’ request. In court filings, she alleged “a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”

New York: Trump has reportedly been indicted by a grand jury in connection with alleged hush money payments made to porn actress Stephanie Clifford and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, whom he feared would go public with claims that they had extramarital sexual encounters with him. A Manhattan grand jury has been probing Trump’s involvement in a $130,000 payment made in 2016 to the porn actor Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public about a sexual encounter she said she had with him years earlier.

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen paid Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, through a shell company before being reimbursed by Trump, whose company, the Trump Organization, logged the reimbursements as legal expenses. The long-running investigation first began under Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s predecessor, Cy Vance, when Trump was in office.

Earlier in 2016, Cohen also arranged for McDougal to be paid $150,000 by the publisher of the supermarket tabloid The National Enquirer, which then squelched her story in a journalistically dubious practice known as “catch-and-kill.”

The District Attorneys

Atlanta: Fulton County DA Fani Willis. She was elected in 2020 after defeating Paul Howard, a six-term incumbent, in Georgia’s largest county. Formerly, she worked in Howard’s office as an assistant DA, and is Fulton County’s first female DA in history.

New York: Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg. According to the Associated Press, Bragg became Manhattan’s first Black district attorney in 2022, following his election in November 2021. His office prosecutes nearly all criminal cases in Manhattan, staffed by about 500 lawyers. Manhattan district attorney is one of the most high-profile prosecution jobs in the world, dramatized on TV shows like “Law & Order” and “Blue Bloods.”

The witnesses

Atlanta: More than 75, including Gov. Brian Kemp; Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr; Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger; former lieutenant governor Geoff Duncan; former White House official Mark Meadows; former U.S. House speaker and Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich; and Republican South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.

New York: Most notably, Cohen. According to the Associated Press, late in the 2016 presidential campaign, Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to keep her silent about what she says was a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier after they met at a celebrity golf tournament. Cohen was then reimbursed by Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, which also rewarded the lawyer with bonuses and extra payments logged internally as legal expenses. Over several months, Cohen said, the company paid him $420,000.

Earlier in 2016, Cohen had also arranged for the publisher of the supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer to pay Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 to squelch her story of a Trump affair in a journalistically dubious practice known as “catch-and-kill.”


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