MAGA figures are wrongly portraying Matthew Colangelo's job at the Manhattan DA's office as part of a grand conspiracy theory

Celebrating with Mike Davis, Steve Bannon says “we’ve finally Alinsky’d” prosecutor in Trump's Manhattan hush money trial

Prominent right-wing media figures and others have reinvigorated their attacks against the lead prosecutor in former President Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial, Matthew Colangelo, with flimsy conspiracy theories and attempts to downplay the severity of Trump’s alleged crimes and to depict the case against him as tantamount to a political witch hunt.  

On April 24, Axios documented Republican attacks against Colangelo since Trump’s criminal trial began, reporting that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and other “top Trump allies on Capitol Hill have claimed that Colangelo, a former attorney with President Biden's Justice Department, left the DOJ specifically to go after Trump.” As the article notes, “Former DOJ official Michael Zeldin told Axios it's not unusual for a federal prosecutor to leave for a gig at the Manhattan DA's office.” (Indeed, a New York Times article about the hiring includes multiple explanations for why Colangelo was a good fit for the role; it also notes that he had already stepped aside as acting associate attorney general when a permanent associate attorney general was appointed.)

Axios also explains, “Such comments continued a pattern of Trump and his backers going on offense against those prosecuting him — and trying to link cases that aren't in federal courts to Biden, though the Justice Department isn't involved in them.”

Steve Bannon discussed the piece on the April 24 edition of his show War Room, saying “We’ve finally Alinsky’d, we’ve got the target, Matthew Colangelo,” seemingly referencing one tenet of activist Saul Alinsky’s work Rules for Radicals — a regular reference point in the right-wing media.

“We have a criminal conspiracy between the Justice Department, Biden's DOJ,” Bannon continued, telling guest Mike Davis that Axios’ staffing explanation is “BS” and adding, “You've got the DOJ guy who was the architect of all this actually having to be up there and give the opening argument to lay out the entire thing.”

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Citation From the April 24, 2024, edition of Real America's Voice's War Room

STEVE BANNON (HOST) Axios is saying, number one, that we've finally Alinsky’d, we've got the target, Matthew Colangelo. OK? They’re saying Trump's allies are making a huge deal about this. President Trump, better late than never, finally put up on Truth Social today, hey, Republicans in D.C. got to step up to the plate.

Now, this is very simple. We have a criminal conspiracy between the Justice Department, Biden's DOJ. It's been shown by the great Julie Kelly of what's coming out of – and you called this shot a couple of years ago, what's coming out of Florida with Jack Smith, we know we got Fani Wills. And now, you know, you got the Justice Department.

And here's what Axios does here. Mike Allen, those guys are smart. Jim VandeHei. What they do is they go to some hack that worked in the Justice Department who said, yeah, well, when they're overstaffed, it's not unusual when they're overstaffed to look to DOJ for a – dude, that is BS. You've got the DOJ guy who was the architect of all this actually having to be up there and give the opening argument to lay out the entire thing.

The focus on Colangelo goes back to April 2023, when Davis, founder of right-wing legal organization the Article III Project, appeared across right-wing media networks to falsely claim that Colangelo is the link between Trump’s New York hush money trial and the Biden administration. 

During one of Davis’ earlier War Room appearances attacking Colangelo, Bannon called on the audience to “make this guy infamous.” His campaign eventually led to a CNN appearance where Davis claimed that “[Manhattan District Attorney] Alvin Bragg recruited one of the top officials from the Biden Justice Department, Matthew Colangelo,” just to “revive this dead case” against Trump. 

These attacks have been renewed across the right-wing media since the start of Trump’s trial. On his April 22 show, Newsmax’s Rob Schmitt rehashed Colangelo’s work history at the Justice Department in his opening monologue and stated that he was “shipped to New York to imprison Donald Trump and keep Joe Biden and Merrick Garland perpetually in power.” 

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Citation From the April 22, 2023, edition of Newsmax's Rob Schmitt Tonight

Fox News’ Jesse Watters also opened his April 22 show with criticism of Colangelo, putting his image on the screen and saying that “for the next six weeks, Trump’s in a torture chamber while Biden’s prosecutor puts on a show trial.” 

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Citation From the April 22, 2024, edition of Fox News' Jesse Watters Primetime