Trump on Trial

Trump's perceived baseball bat threat reemerges, yet again

The topic of a meme posted by former President Donald Trump, with him holding a bat, and picturing Alvin Bragg, came up again Tuesday. Here's why.

Former president Trump holds a baseball bat.
AP
SMS

An apparent incendiary social media post from former President Donald Trump appeared to be aimed at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. The image and message were posted days ago, but came up again Tuesday as Trump appeared in a New York courtroom to be arraigned as he faces 34 felony charges related to his business dealings. 

As a historic indictment loomed from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office, the former president appeared to lash out at the prosecutor online, calling him "racist," as he posted a meme with Bragg in an altered compound image appearing to stare at a baseball bat held by Trump. The meme's text said criminal charges could lead to "death and destruction." 

The post, which was reported on as it happened, now appears to have been deleted from Trump's Truth Social platform. 

In late March, Trump responded to the post on Fox News claiming the photo in the post was not what it appeared to be and that the two photos were unrelated and not meant to convey a message of violence that many assumed it did.

At the end of Bragg's press conference on Tuesday after Trump left court, reporters shouted questions to him trying to get a response about what has been strongly seen as incitements to violence from Trump. 

"At what point do you think a gag order is necessary?!" one reporter shouted. Bragg quickly rushed away from the lectern after taking some questions about the indictment itself, but with little explanation about how the DA will respond to another list of concerns from the public. 

Donald Trump's threats toward Black prosecutors spark violence worries
Donald Trump's threats toward Black prosecutors spark violence worries

Donald Trump's threats toward Black prosecutors spark violence worries

Former President Donald Trump has verbally attacked two district attorneys and an attorney general, all of whom are investigating him.

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In the Fox New interview Trump explained the post in a twisting string of sentences saying, in part, “They put up a picture of me, and you know, where I was holding the baseball bat, it was at the White House,” Trump said in the interview. 

“Make America, Buy America. Because I did a lot of Buy America things and this is a company that makes baseball bats,” the former president said.

“They took that picture from the White House and they put it up and then they put a picture of Alvin Bragg up,” he continued. 

The explanation didn't offer much to dispel the belief by many that the meme was a threat against DA Bragg. 

In late March, tension spiked when police said a white powder was found in the mail room for the building that houses the offices for the Manhattan DA and the grand jury who were, at that time, still deliberating on handing down an indictment against Trump. 

The substance was later determined to be "non-hazardous" but the parcel in which the powder was found had a note that read "Alvin – I’ll kill you."

In court on Tuesday, a New York judge appeared to warn Trump to "refrain" from social media posts that might be incendiary or potentially incite violence. 

The judge appeared to also be directing the guidance to everyone in Trump's camp, to cool down their activity on social media while the legal proceedings continued. 

After the arraignment Trump's attorneys were asked about Trump's post in a media scrum outside of the courthouse. 

Joe Tacopina, an attorney for Trump, said the post was "ill-advised," but wasn't meant to be a threat, calling it a "picture of him showing off an American-made bat." Another attorney for Trump, Todd Blanche, said he urged all involved to not use language "that is inappropriate."

Trump has used his Truth Social platform for messaging that might not have been allowed on platforms like Twitter since he was suspended from the platform in early 2021. 

About a year later Trump and his team launched his Truth Social platform. Then later that year billionaire Elon Musk purchased Twitter, and after soliciting feedback from users Musk ultimately allowed the former president back on the platform. 

But that didn't stop Trump from continuing to promote his own social platform, and use it as a way to release messaging that might otherwise be too inflammatory for other large U.S.-based social media. 

What happens now that Donald Trump has been arraigned?
What happens now that Donald Trump has been arraigned?

What happens now that Donald Trump has been arraigned?

There is a long, complicated legal process to come now that Donald Trump has been indicted.

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While it was not entirely clear when Trump would return to court, it was clear that a potentially long and complicated legal process was set to come. 

Trump's legal team is likely planning to try and convince a judge that testimony from Michael Cohen should not be heard in court, and that could be part of a process that takes months. 

The legal proceedings are expected to continue to take major resources away from New York law enforcement and other jurisdictions, as they try to maintain peace during protests and in areas that include the streets around Trump Tower and the New York courthouse.