US Rep. Jim Jordan, left, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg
Washington CNN  — 

As former President Donald Trump and his allies attack Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is prosecuting Trump on felony charges of falsifying business records, the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing Monday in Manhattan to castigate Bragg for his handling of violent crime.

But Trump and other Republicans, including committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and former Vice President Mike Pence, have made false claims about the crime situation in Manhattan and New York City. Contrary to their claims in recent weeks, neither the borough of Manhattan nor the city as a whole has been even close to a record level of crime, violent crime or murder since Bragg was sworn in as Manhattan’s top prosecutor in 2022.

And Bragg’s office is correct when it points out that Manhattan has experienced declines in key crime categories so far in 2023 compared with 2022. However, it’s also true that many of Manhattan’s crime numbers increased in 2022 compared with 2021.

It’s impossible to quantify how much Bragg had to do with either the 2023 decrease (it’s early in the year) or the 2022 increase (which was a continuation of a trend that began months before Bragg was elected in 2021); in general, it is extremely difficult to determine how much any jurisdiction’s crime numbers, positive or negative, can be attributed to the local district attorney. There is always a complicated mix of factors at play, from the economy to policing to the corrections system to social policy to the weather to, since 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have a tendency to want to blame one person, or credit one person, when in reality these are complex systems that rise and fall for often complex, random reasons that we don’t have the ability to explain – but it’s easier to say, ‘It was Joe Schmoe over there,’” said Jeff Asher, a crime analyst and consultant and co-founder of the firm AH Datalytics.

Here’s a look at what Manhattan crime numbers actually show and do not show.

Fact: Violent crime in Manhattan and New York City is far below record levels

Trump claimed in March that Bragg “has watched Violent Crime in Manhattan soar to Record Highs” and that “killings are taking place at a number like nobody’s ever seen, right in Manhattan.”

These claims are not even close to true. Manhattan’s recent levels of violent crime in general and murder in particular are way down from the record levels of the early 1990s.

New York City publishes crime statistics on its website, so the truth is easy to find. In 1990, when the city set its all-time record for total murders, there were 503 recorded murders in Manhattan, which is one of the city’s five boroughs. In 2022, Manhattan recorded 78 murders – a decline of about 84% from 1990.

Manhattan is also far below record levels for other kinds of crime. For example, Manhattan recorded 689 rapes in 1990, compared with about 350 rapes in 2022 (a decline of about 49%) and 26,907 robberies in 1990, compared with 4,167 robberies in 2022 (a decline of about 85%).

Some Trump allies, including Jordan, have attacked Bragg with claims that there is record crime in New York City as a whole. These claims are also wildly off the mark, even if you ignore the fact that Bragg isn’t the top prosecutor in the four other boroughs. For example, New York City recorded 2,262 murders in 1990, compared with 438 in 2022, a decline of about 81%.

The declines in Manhattan and New York City crime between 1990 and 2022 are even more pronounced on a per capita basis, since the population has grown over that period. Manhattan had about 1.60 million people in 2022, compared with about 1.49 million in 1990, according to Census Bureau estimates, while New York City had about 8.34 million people in 2022, compared with about 7.32 million in 1990.

Fact: Most categories of major crime in Manhattan, though not all, are down so far in 2023

Bragg’s office has responded to crime-related attacks by saying that Manhattan crime is down this year in many key categories, such as murder, shooting incidents, rape, robbery and burglary.

This is accurate – and the 2023 decreases are significant, though it’s important to emphasize that it’s still early in the year and it’s unclear how much Bragg has to do with the improvements. Through April 9, Manhattan had recorded about 9% fewer murders in 2023 than it had at the same point in 2022, about 15% fewer shooting incidents, about 29% fewer rapes, about 10% fewer robberies and about 23% fewer burglaries.

Bragg’s office tends not to mention that there are some categories in which Manhattan crime has increased so far this year. As of April 9, felony assault was up about 6% in 2023 over the same point in 2022, while grand larceny was up about 4%.

Fact: Major crime in Manhattan did increase in 2022

It’s still fair for Bragg’s office to point out that various kinds of crime in Manhattan are down so far in 2023 compared with 2022. But it’s also fair to point out that various kinds of crime in Manhattan were up in 2022 compared with 2021.

Rape was up about 20%, robbery about 18%, felony assault about 7%, burglary about 30%, grand larceny about 33%. Murder (down about 15%) was a major exception. On the whole, though, there was a clear uptick.

There is, as always, some key context. Crime was up significantly in New York City as a whole in 2022 despite a citywide decline in murder; Bragg is not the prosecutor for the other four boroughs. Also, Asher pointed out that the upward crime trend in New York Cit