Prosecutor tells Trump to keep his guard up, says probe is ongoing | Courthouse News Service
Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Prosecutor tells Trump to keep his guard up, says probe is ongoing

In his first statement since the resignations of two lead investigators, a district attorney insisted Thursday that the former president could still face a criminal indictment.

MANHATTAN (CN) — There are more stones yet to turn over in the criminal investigation of the Trump Organization, Manhattan's district attorney affirmed Thursday, even as his office faces a grand jury expiration at the end of the month.

“In short, as we have previously said, the investigation continues,” District Attorney Alvin Bragg said.

The rare statement from Bragg marks his first since the February departures of top investigators Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, three years into the Trump Organization probe in which they have been at the helm. As Bragg assured the public Thursday, however, Dunne and Pomerantz's absences have not stopped his office from “exploring evidence not previously explored" in the Trump Organization probe.

“In the long and proud tradition of white-collar prosecutions at the Manhattan D.A.’s Office, we are investigating thoroughly and following the facts without fear or favor,” Bragg's statement continues.

Bragg wrote later that, while "the law constrains me from commenting further at this time," the office will publicly state the conclusion of its investigation when the time comes, whether that happens with an indictment or otherwise.

Dunne and Pomerantz’s sudden resignations are said to be the result of Bragg casting doubt on the case, even after the office obtained copies of Trump’s tax returns in yearslong battle that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pomerantz called Bragg’s decision not to pursue an indictment “contrary to the public interest,” according to a copy of his Feb. 23 resignation letter first published by The New York Times, and also asserted that Trump is “guilty of numerous felony violations."

A former federal prosecutor, Pomerantz left the Southern District of New York for private practice back in 1982, joining the Manhattan DA’s Office for the Trump investigation last year on special assignment.

The Times’ publishing of Pomerantz’s resignation letter 10 days ago may have contributed to the urgency of Bragg’s office to issue a statement reassuring the public that the Trump Organization investigation is not defunct.

“Bragg may be feeling some pain and wants to ‘set the record straight’ in his view,” John Coffee Jr., a professor at Columbia Law School, said in an email. “But Bragg clearly rejected Pomerantz's theory of prosecution and there is no other viable theory.”

Bragg's delay in bringing an indictment against Trump will greatly help the former president’s odds in the upcoming Republic primary elections, Coffee told Courthouse News. “Bragg ignores the critical factor of time: Trump and his attorneys could delay a trial for a year or more and there might be no resolution by primary season when (we think) Trump would be running," the professor said.

The letter from the prosecutor on Thursday explains Bragg's rationale for not making significant public disclosures in the case.  “I understand the public desire to know more about our investigative steps. But, the law requires secrecy during an investigation,” he wrote.

“It is a felony in New York for a prosecutor to disclose grand jury matters," Bragg continued. "And for good reason. Doing so can create problems for cases and investigations, the individuals involved, and the criminal justice system. It can affect witness testimony or even lead to witness tampering.

“Unauthorized public disclosures also potentially can affect a defendant’s right to a fair trial. In the meantime, we will not be discussing our investigative steps. Nor will we be discussing grand jury matters,” the district attorney concluded.

Bragg is a relative newcomer to the case, having taken office in January after his predecessor who launched the probe, Cyrus Vance Jr., announced last year he would not seek reelection.

The office filed charges in July against the Trump Organization and its former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, alleging the organization evaded taxes and allowed executive to collect nonmonetary “fringe” benefits.

The term for grand jury hearing the prosecutor’s evidence against the organization expires in April.

“As anyone who has worked on criminal cases in New York knows, New York County has grand juries sitting all the time,” Bragg said on Thursday. "There is no magic at all to any previously reported dates.”

The team of prosecutors on the case is led by Susan Hoffinger, chief of the Investigation Division.

Trump’s attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday afternoon.

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