NEW YORK – Former United States president Donald Trump said in an online campaign advertisement on Thursday that if he were re-elected, he would “completely overhaul” the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Justice Department and launch “sweeping civil rights investigations” into local district attorneys’ offices.
Trump’s three-minute ad promising to crack down on local prosecutors in Democratic cities – whom he described as soft-on-crime “Marxists” – came as he was facing intense scrutiny by two district attorneys in particular: Mr Alvin L Bragg in New York City and Fani T Willis in Fulton County, Georgia.
Last month, Mr Bragg unsealed a 34-count indictment against the former president, charging him with falsifying business records in connection with hush-money payments to a porn actress made during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Ms Willis, in the meantime, is continuing to investigate Trump’s efforts to interfere with voting in her state during the 2020 US presidential election.
Although Trump did not mention either prosecutor by name, he has repeatedly lashed out at Mr Bragg and Ms Willis, both of whom are Black, describing them as racist and politically motivated.
Both before and after the indictment of Trump was announced, Mr Bragg faced threats against his life, and a letter to him containing a white powder – later determined not to be dangerous – was found in the mailroom of his office.
Trump’s advertisement, which bore a screen title reading “Restoring Justice in America,” was in keeping with his strategy of attacking law enforcement officials who seek to hold him accountable – one he has used over and over in his decades in the spotlight.
Although Trump and his allies have often sought to undermine the FBI, which has taken part in multiple investigations of him in recent years, the advertisement was one of his most menacing threats yet against local prosecutors.
Trump said that district attorneys in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco should be subjected to federal subpoenas seeking emails and other records to determine whether they had “violated federal civil rights law” or engaged in “illegal racial discrimination”.
That appeared to echo the language of the investigations that the Justice Department has often undertaken against local police departments accused of racial bias.
Trump specifically called for an inquiry into the district attorney’s office in Travis County, Texas, which recently won a murder conviction against Daniel S Perry, a US Army sergeant who fatally shot a protester during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in the summer of 2020.
The case has become a lightning rod for the right as Governor Greg Abbott, the state’s Republican governor, has suggested that the guilty verdict was wrong, and said that he planned to pardon Perry for the killing. NYTIMES