Old video altered to falsely claim 'fraud charges against Trump were dropped'

·3-min read

A doctored video has been viewed tens of thousands of times in social media posts that falsely claim it shows Alvin Bragg, the US prosecutor in Donald Trump's fraud case, announcing the New York district attorney's office has dropped all charges against the former president. Comments from some social media users indicated they were misled by the claim, while others appeared to understand it was false. The video was in fact digitally altered from old footage published a year ago that had nothing to do with Trump's case.

The video, which shows Bragg giving a speech in an online meeting, was published on Twitter on April 3, 2023.

It has been viewed more than 37,000 times.

"It is with an extremely heavy heart that I must announce that the New York district attorney's office -- after an extensive, thorough investigation -- has decided to drop all charges against Donald Trump," he appears to say in the video.

The clip also purportedly shows him saying he will resign from the post of New York district attorney due to his "deteriorating mental health".

The post's simplified-Chinese caption reads: "What? The Attorney General of New York solemnly announces that all charges against Trump had been dropped! He resigned due to a poor mental state."

Text in simplified Chinese that largely repeats the false claim has been overlaid on the video.

<span>A screenshot, taken on April 14, 2023, of the false post.</span>
A screenshot, taken on April 14, 2023, of the false post.

Donald Trump testified under oath on April 14 for several hours in a New York civil case that accused the ex-president and three of his children of falsifying business records (archived link).

The 76-year-old Republican is facing a slew of state, federal, and congressional probes that threaten to complicate his bid to regain the presidency in next year's White House election.

At the time the posts circulated online, he was being sued for battery and defamation in civil proceedings in New York, accused of raping writer E Jean Carroll in 1996, and was indicted over a 2016 hush money payment to a porn star in a criminal case likely to stretch well into the election year, AFP reported (archived link).

He also faced the possibility of charges from the Department of Justice and Georgia prosecutors in cases involving his attempts to overthrow the 2020 election and his hoarding of government documents.

Similar videos were shared in Chinese on Twitter and in English on TikTok and Facebook alongside the same false claim.

Although some social media users pointed out the video was doctored, others appeared to believe it was genuine.

One commented: "Those who once hated Trump were happy for nothing".

"Told you! There is insufficient evidence for an arrest," another wrote.

The video was in fact digitally altered to insert the false claim.

Misleading dubbing

The original clip was published a year ago before charges were brought against Trump.

A combination of reverse image and keyword search on Google found the full version of the video published on YouTube on January 22, 2022 (archived link), less than a month after Bragg was appointed as the District Attorney of New York County.

"D.A. Bragg Delivers Remarks at NYU School of Law," reads the video's title.

Its description reads in part: "D.A. Bragg delivered remarks and addressed questions on his plan to delivery safety and justice for all in a conversation".

Bragg makes no mention of Trump or an investigation in the original video.

Instead, he spoke about his recent election to the district attorney's office and the policies he intended to implement.

He also took questions from the audience on a variety of topics, including gun trafficking, hate crimes, and racial disparities in criminal justice.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the false posts (left) and the YouTube video (right):

<span>A screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (left) and the YouTube video (right). </span>
A screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (left) and the YouTube video (right).

As of May 3, 2023, there have been no official reports that the charges against Trump have been dropped.