The two prosecutors leading the Manhattan DA’s investigation into former President Trump and his business abruptly resigned on Wednesday – after having mysteriously stopped presenting evidence to a grand jury a month ago, according to the New York Times, citing people with knowledge of the matter, and suggesting the future of the high-stakes inquiry has been thrown into “serious doubt.”
The prosecutors, Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz, resigned after new Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg, expressed doubts about moving forward with the case.
Without Mr. Bragg’s commitment to move forward, the prosecutors late last month postponed a plan to question at least one witness before the grand jury, one of the people said. They have not questioned any witnesses in front of the grand jury for more than a month, essentially pausing their investigation into whether Mr. Trump inflated the value of his assets to obtain favorable loan terms from banks.
The precise reasons for Mr. Bragg’s pullback are unknown, and he has made few public statements about the status of the inquiry since taking office. In a statement responding to the resignations of the prosecutors, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bragg said that he was “grateful for their service” and that the investigation was ongoing. -NYT
Now – with time running out for this grand jury, whose term will expire in April, and without Dunne – a veteran of the DA’s office who has been closely involved with the inquiry, “the yearslong investigation could peter out.”
The sudden departures mark a dramatic shift from January, when the Times noted ‘significant activity related to the investigation’ at the Lower Manhattan courthouse – with at least two witnesses, Trump’s longtime accountant and a Real Estate expert – staying inside for hours.
And then the case just fizzled out.
That said, the pause in grand jury activity in the Manhattan case coincides with the ramping up of NY Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation, which is examining some of the same conduct by the former president.
Last week, James received approval from a court to question Trump and two of his adult children under oath, and has filed documents which accuse the Trump Organization of misrepresenting the value of its properties. According to one filing, the company engaged in “fraudulent or misleading” practices. While James lacks the authority to criminally charge Trump, she has the option of suing him.
Trump has denied inflating property values or defrauding lenders – accusing both Bragg and James of being politically motivated “racists.”
As Mr. Bragg’s grand jury presentation has come to a halt, another serious criminal inquiry into the former president has been gaining steam. In recent weeks, a district attorney in Atlanta asked a judge to convene a grand jury for an investigation into Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia.
Another criminal investigation, in New York’s Westchester County, is examining Mr. Trump’s financial dealings at one of his company’s golf courses.
The Manhattan investigation, which proceeded in fits and starts for years, was the most developed of the three criminal inquiries into Mr. Trump. It resulted in the indictments last summer of The Trump Organization and its long-serving chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, on separate tax-related charges. -NYT
After Manhattan prosecutors announced indictments last summer, prosecutors focused on Trump’s net worth – suggesting he routinely inflated the value of his assets in order to defraud lenders.
Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, fired the Trump Organization and announced that it would no longer stand behind a decade of Trump’s financial statements. That said, Mazars says it has not, “as a whole,” found material discrepancies between information provided by the Trump Organization and the actual value of Trump’s assets.
That said, even with Mazars’ actions, a criminal case is highly unlikely according to the Times. Meanwhile, prosecutors have been unable to convince Trump CFO Alan Weisselberg to cooperate with the investigation.