Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Manhattan District Attorney says Trump criminal investigation continues despite leadership shakeup

NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — Refuting suggestions that he has lost interest in going after Donald Trump, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Thursday that criminal investigations into the former president and his business practices were “without fear or favoritism.” “Continues, despite the recent shakeup. lead the investigation.

In a rare public statement, Bragg denied that ending the three-year investigation or that a grand jury term ending this month would impede his office’s ability to bring charges.

Citing confidentiality rules, the district attorney said he could not discuss the details of the investigation, but pledged to publicly disclose when it was over.

“In recent weeks, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has been asked repeatedly whether our investigations regarding former President Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization, and his leadership are ongoing,” Bragg wrote. “it is.”

Democrats’ confirmation of the investigation was part of a double dose of bad legal news for Trump on Thursday.

It came shortly after New York’s attorney general’s office asked a judge to hold Trump in contempt of court and not comply with a March 31 deadline to turn over documents in a parallel civil investigation. asked to pay a fine of $10,000 per day.

Read more: New York Attorney General Asks Court To Implement Donald Trump’s Summons

Trump is appealing a subpoena for his testimony in that investigation, but no one is required to provide documents to him.

Attorney General Letitia James said, “The judge’s order was quite clear: Donald J. Trump must comply with our summons and hand over the relevant documents to my office.” “Instead of following a court order, Mr. Trump is trying to avoid it. We are seeking the court’s immediate intervention because no one is above the law.”

A message seeking comment was left with Trump’s lawyer.

Bragg’s statement, emailed to journalists and posted on social media, marked the district attorney’s first public comment on the Trump investigation since the two top deputies who were leading it, Mark Pomerantz and Kerry Dunne, 23. Resigned in a dispute on Feb. case direction.

Pomerantz, a former Mafia prosecutor who was brought out of private practice last year to lead a Trump criminal investigation, wrote in his resignation letter that he believed Trump to be “guilty of multiple felonies,” but Bragg, who has After assuming office, the investigation was inherited. Jan had decided not to pursue the charges.

Pomerantz said in the letter published by The New York Times last month that there was “enough evidence to establish Mr. Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt”, for allegations he had secured loans and his image as a wealthy businessman. Misrepresented financial statements to burn.

“I believe that your decision not to sue Donald Trump on the now and current record is misguided and completely contrary to the public interest,” Pomerantz wrote. “That’s why I can’t stay in my current position.”

Bragg’s silence following the resignation and the publication of Pomerantz’s letter on March 23 gave rise to a narrative that he was no longer interested in pursuing Trump and that the investigation was effectively dead.

Read more: Piecing together Donald Trump’s 8-hour hiatus during the January 6 uprising

After Pomerantz and Dunne left the DA’s office, Trump’s attorney Robert Fischetti told the Associated Press: “I’m a very happy person. In my opinion, this investigation is over.”

Pomerantz and Dunne began an investigation under former District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., and Bragg asked them to stay to take office. Pomerantz wrote that Vance had instructed him to present the evidence before a grand jury and seek indictment of Trump and the other defendants “as soon as possible,” but Bragg came to a different conclusion after reviewing the evidence. .

Vance and Bragg are both Democrats. No former president has ever been charged with a crime.

In his statement on Thursday, Bragg tried to back the narrative by putting Trump and his allies on notice that he should not rest, as well as trying to reassure supporters who supported him because he called the former president. , a Republican had pledged to continue the investigation. ,

Bragg said that a team of “dedicated, experienced career prosecutors” are working on the investigation, led by their investigative division chief Susan Hoffinger, and they are “going through documents, interviewing witnesses”. and are searching for evidence that had not been discovered before.”

“In the long and proud tradition of white-collar prosecutors in the Manhattan DA’s office, we are conducting a thorough investigation and following the facts without fear or favor,” Bragg said.

Trump has called the investigation a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

So far, the three-year investigation has only brought charges of tax fraud against Trump’s company, the Trump Organization and its longtime finance chief Alan Weiselberg, related to lucrative fringe benefits such as rent, car payments and school tuition. He has pleaded not guilty.

Weiselberg’s lawyers filed court papers in February asking a judge to dismiss his case, arguing that prosecutors targeted him as a punishment because he would not turn over the former president.

Trump has cited a potential threat from the criminal case as he appeals a ruling requiring him to answer questions under oath in a parallel civil investigation led by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Read more: Jan. 6 Committee votes to hold Trump advisers Scavino, Navarro in contempt

Trump’s lawyers argue that James, who hired two attorneys to work on the criminal case, obtained a state law under the guise of a civil statement to allow prosecutors to testify before a criminal grand jury. For preventing them from calling without giving immunity.

James, a Democrat, has said his investigation has uncovered evidence that Trump misrepresented the value of assets such as golf courses and skyscrapers on financial statements for more than a decade – a topic that has sparked criminal investigations. has also been a part of.

Bragg said in his statement that “high-profile, complex investigations have been trademarked” of his professional career, including overseeing a lawsuit in 2018 as the top deputy to New York’s attorney general, which led to Trump’s charitable foundation. was closed on charges. used nonprofits to advance their political and business interests.

“These experiences shape my approach and the investigative steps the team is working on,” Bragg wrote. “Prosecutors are doing their duty and cannot just bring cases that are ‘slam dunks’. On the contrary, every case must be brought for the right reason – namely the demand for justice. That’s what I’ve done throughout my career.” No matter how easy or difficult the matter may be.”

A grand jury last convened in the Trump investigation hasn’t been hearing evidence regularly for several months and is expected to end its term in the coming weeks, but Bragg said grand juries sit all the time in Manhattan and “there There is no magic in any of the previously reported dates.”

“In the meantime, we will not discuss our investigative steps. Nor will we discuss grand jury cases.” Bragg wrote. “In short, as we’ve said before, the investigation is ongoing.”

Nation World News Desk
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