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Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg Faces Lawsuits Over FOIL Requests in Trump Prosecution Case

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In a legal saga that continues to unfold, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg finds himself embroiled in multiple lawsuits over his failure to comply with Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests.

The focus of these requests pertains to potential communication between Bragg’s office and the Justice Department, White House, and Democratic lawmakers concerning the highly publicized prosecution of former President Donald J Trump.

Bragg made headlines in March when he indicted Trump on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The charges stem from a thorough investigation into hush-money payments made during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Alleging that Trump sought to conceal damaging information and engage in unlawful activities, Bragg’s indictment signaled a significant step in the legal scrutiny faced by the former president.

However, the spotlight has now turned to Bragg himself, as the conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, filed two lawsuits against him. According to reports from Fox News, the lawsuits claim that Bragg’s office potentially coordinated or communicated with the Justice Department, the White House, and Democratic Representative Daniel Goldman, leading to investigations by various U.S. House committees into Bragg’s conduct.

In its legal filings, The Heritage Foundation expresses concern over the lack of answers to their inquiries, raising suspicions about the potential weaponization of the criminal justice system against Trump. The foundation alleges a pattern of coordination among Trump’s political opponents and requests the court to classify the requested documents as subject to release under New York’s FOIL laws. Additionally, they seek to compel Bragg and his team to provide the documents while preventing them from seeking costs and fees related to the FOIL requests.

According to The Heritage Foundation, Bragg’s office has been largely uncooperative, withholding crucial communications between suspected parties. They argue that these communications should be accessible under New York’s FOIL laws. Mike Howell, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, asserts that Bragg may have been actively coordinating or communicating with Trump’s political opposition, highlighting concerns about potential bias in the prosecution.

Critics accuse Bragg of hypocrisy, citing his lack of transparency and willingness to obstruct and delay the release of documents. The foundation argues that while Bragg pursues a prosecution against Trump based on what they consider a flimsy theory about document retention, he himself has failed to uphold the same standards. This has raised questions about a potential dual standard of justice at play.

The outcome of these lawsuits could have broader implications for the transparency and accountability of prosecutors in high-profile cases, and may shed light on the delicate balance between political motivations and the pursuit of justice.

Follow Alexander Carter on Twitter @AlexCarterDC for more!

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COVID-19

Adviser to Fauci bragged about helping him evade FOIA, ‘he is too smart’ to get caught

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The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic published evidence ahead of a hearing that explains the senior scientific adviser to then-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci actually bragged about helping Fauci evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The adviser, David Morens, admitted in his own communications to intentionally evading FOIA by using a Fauci’s private Gmail address or just handing him documents in person, according to the newly disclosed emails.

The 35-page report on Morens includes previously unreleased emails including:

An April 21, 2021 email shows Morens contacted EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak, whom Morens has described as his “best friend” and a U.S. taxpayer conduit for the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as well as Boston University and New England Biolabs researchers.

The subject line references “CoV research in China, GoF, etc.,” referring to EcoHealth-facilitated coronavirus research at WIV that could make a virus more transmissible or dangerous. The National Institutes of Health recently admitted it funded gain-of-function research under that definition but not a stricter regulatory definition.

“PS, i forgot to say there is no worry about FOIAs,” Morens wrote. “I can either send stuff to Tony on his private gmail, or hand it to him at work or at his house. He is too smart to let colleagues send him stuff that could cause trouble.”

A May 13, 2021 email to the same recipients referred to “our ‘secret’ back channel” by which Morens connected Fauci to a journalist named “Arthur,” apparently to discuss the feds’ preferred narrative that SARS-CoV-2 emerged naturally rather than via lab leak. The email cited an article on the message board Virological.

Gerald Keusch, associate director of the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory Institute at BU, emailed Daszak Oct. 25, 2021 to relay a phone conversation with “David,” who is “concerned about the privacy of text” and email sent and received on his “government phone” because they “could be FOIA’able.”

“Tony has told him not to be in touch with you and EHA for the time being,” Keusch wrote. Morens relayed that Daszak should get his story straight on EcoHealth’s claim that NIH locked it out of the system when it tried to file its year-five progress report that disclosed an arguable gain-of-function experiment.

Earlier in the day, Morens told Daszak “i will be meeting with Tony about this later on.” The subject line of the thread was “Draft response to Michael Lauer,” deputy director for extramural research at NIH.

Morens also told Daszak that Fauci and then-NIH Director Francis Collins are “trying to protect you, which also protects their own reputations,” apparently meaning against allegations that U.S. tax dollars passed through EcoHealth funded research that may have led to SARS-CoV-2’s emergence.

The subcommittee said it found emails that revealed “likely illegal” practices, including an April 2020 email in which Morens shared a “new NIAID implementation plan” with Daszak and an August 2020 email in which Daszak mentioned a “kick-back” to Morens after NIH awarded $7.5 million to EcoHealth.

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