Trump abandons his trial to criticize the crime and attack the prosecutor | ET REALITY


In his first campaign stop since his criminal trial began in Manhattan, former President Donald J. Trump visited a Harlem warehouse on Tuesday where he directly attacked the district attorney prosecuting him and presented himself as tough on crime, a central theme of his 2024 career.

His visit to the store — site of a case that sparked political controversy for the Manhattan district attorney when an employee was accused of fatally stabbing a man after a confrontation — created a striking juxtaposition.

After spending much of the day in a Manhattan courtroom as a criminal defendant, Trump immediately traveled north to the city to criticize District Attorney Alvin Bragg for being too soft on crime and highlight his “law and order” message. ”.

For months, Trump has tried to draw a distinction between his frequently expressed tough-on-crime stance and the felony charges he faces in four separate cases. Outside the warehouse, he again attempted to dismiss the charges against him as political persecution, arguing that Bragg was too focused on the 2016 Trump campaign sex scandal cover-up trial and was ignoring crime in the city.

“It’s Alvin Bragg’s fault,” Trump said. “Alvin Bragg does nothing.”

Although a gag order prevents Trump from attacking witnesses, prosecutors and jurors in his New York case, the order does not cover Bragg or the judge overseeing his trial.

Before arriving at the warehouse, his campaign attacked Bragg for his handling of the 2022 incident, in which Jose Alba, an employee, was charged with second-degree murder after stabbing a man, Austin Simon, in an altercation.

Bragg and his office were criticized at the time for charging Alba, as surveillance video showed Simon shoving Alba, raising questions about whether Alba had acted in self-defense. Prosecutors eventually dropped the case, saying they could not “prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified in his use of deadly physical force.”

At the warehouse Tuesday night, Trump met briefly with the store owner and Alba’s lawyer. He also spoke with Francisco Marte, founder of the Bodega and Small Business Association, which represents wineries in New York and who attacked Bragg over the case.

After their conversation, Trump repeated the criticisms of liberal politicians that have become standard campaign lines, describing Democratic-run cities as crime-ridden and attacking their leaders for being too lax and opposed to the law and the order.

Before leaving, Trump shook hands and posed for a photo with a group of uniformed New York police officers, an atypical move for many criminal defendants. He often takes photos with police officers at political stops after they have helped protect his motorcade.

And he again repeated his criticism of the way President Biden handled the surge of migrants at the border, arguing that the crisis was harming people of color because migrants were taking their jobs.

That message resonated with some of his followers, who had come to see the former president.

“This is the worst city for all these immigrants,” said Lesandra Carrión, 47. She said she believed the border had been more secure when Trump was in office and that she did not believe Biden “did anything for this country.”

And Trump’s criminal charges, he said, did not concern him, adding that he would win in 2024.

“He’s going to overcome that,” Carrión said. “They are all accusations.”

Trump was greeted by a large crowd when he arrived outside the store, and surrounding blocks in Harlem were filled with people standing behind police barricades hoping to catch a glimpse.

Unsurprisingly, given that Trump lost overwhelmingly in New York, his former home state, in 2016 and 2020, his reception was not entirely positive. A group of protesters also arrived to boo him, chanting “Dump Trump” and waving signs before he arrived.

Other passersby cursed in frustration as police barricades stretched across a city block, hindering easy access to the sidewalks, their apartments or the store.

Still, despite the mixed response, Trump promised to “make a big play for New York,” suggesting he would make more campaign stops after his court appearances and could easily campaign locally.

Lacretia McNeil, 40, whose daughter sat on his shoulder while he taped the appearance, said Trump’s decision to visit Harlem was a smart effort “to rally the votes.” Her daughter wondered aloud about the point of visiting a store.

Trump will be present in the courtroom when his trial begins, and it is expected to last at least six weeks. But he is expected to hold more events such as a stop at a winery Tuesday night after the hearing.

Campaign aides have also explored the possibility of holding rallies on Wednesdays, when the trial is expected to break each week, and will most likely continue holding rallies on weekends.

Bernardo Mokam contributed with reports.

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