By Mimi Nguyen Ly
President Donald Trump late Tuesday accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of having illegally leaked the contents of the indictment ahead of his arraignment.
Trump was indicted by a grand jury in New York City, becoming the first-ever U.S. president to be criminally charged. The indictment against Trump, confirmed on March 30, remains under seal.
“Wow! District Attorney Bragg just illegally LEAKED the various points, and complete information, on the pathetic Indictment against me,” Trump said on his social media platform TruthSocial at 8:40 p.m. ET.
“I know the reporter and so, unfortunately, does he. This means that he MUST BE IMMEDIATELY INDICTED. Now, if he wants to really clean up his reputation, he will do the honorable thing and, as District Attorney, INDICT HIMSELF. He will go down in Judicial history, and his Trump Hating wife will be, I am sure, very proud of him!”
Ten minutes later, the former president issued another post: “D.A. BRAGG JUST ILLEGALLY LEAKED THE 33 points of Indictment.
“There are no changes or surprises from those he leaked days ago directly out of the Grand Jury. No Crime by Trump. What a MESS. Bragg should resign, NOW!”
The statements were made after Yahoo News published a report at 8:12 p.m. ET titled, “Exclusive: Trump to be charged Tuesday with 34 felony counts, but spared handcuffs and mug shot.”
The report said that Trump “will be placed under arrest on Tuesday and informed that he has been charged with 34 felony counts for falsification of business records.”
Authored by Michael Isikoff, the outlet’s chief investigative correspondent, the report relies on an unnamed source “who has been briefed on the procedures for the arraignment of the former president.”
Isikoff noted in his report that after it was posted, “Trump responded with a post on TruthSocial.” Isikoff also noted that a spokesman for Trump’s team said the legal team has not seen the indictment or been briefed on the details.
Isikoff is a longtime investigative reporter who previously worked with Newsweek and NBC. In 1998, Isikoff broke the story on the affair between then-president Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, who was interning at the White House.
In 2016, Isikoff was first to report on claims in the now-debunked Steele Dossier that had formed part of the material that the FBI, under the Obama administration, used in order to obtain FISA warrants to spy on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. The surveillance formed part of the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into Trump’s 2016 election campaign and alleged Russian collusion.
The dossier was compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who was hired by opposition research firm Fusion GPS and funded by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the DNC. None of the 103 key allegations in the Steele dossier were verified during former special counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-months-long investigation.
The Clinton campaign and the DNC have since paid fines after federal officials ruled they were likely in violation of federal law for not accurately describing payments made to a law firm that funneled money to Steele and his associates.
Grand Jury Leaks Could Be Crimes: Attorney
Michael Bachner, a New York defense lawyer and former Manhattan prosecutor, told The Epoch Times that, by law, grand jury proceedings are secret, and whoever leaked information from the Manhattan grand jury could face charges.
“It could be a felony to leak information from a grand jury,” he said.
Bachner said he has been involved in cases in which “courts have ordered investigations into who leaked information.”
People who serve on grand juries, officials involved in the proceedings, and even foreign language interpreters, if used, all take an oath of secrecy, Bachner said.
“The only person who can talk about what happened in the grand jury is the witness himself, because he has a First Amendment right to talk about what he said,” Bachner said.
When reports came out that Trump faced at least 30 counts, if those were accurate, the information could have only come from someone inside the grand jury room, the prosecutor’s office, the clerk of courts office or “somebody with knowledge,” Bachner said.
“And I’m troubled by that. Grand jury secrecy is extremely important to protect the rights of the defendant.”
Bragg’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Late Tuesday, Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina separately told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that Trump’s legal team is planning to file a motion to dismiss the charges based on selective prosecution and prosecutorial misconduct.
He added that after seeing the indictment, the team will also consider filing a motion to change the venue.
Gary Bai and Janice Hisle contributed to this report.