A dispute between two prosecutors and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg resulted in the unraveling of the investigation into the finances of former President Donald Trump.
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As reported by The New York Times, Mark F. Pomerantz and Carey R. Dunne outlined their strategies for claiming that the former president’s financial statements were inaccurate but they were running out of time as the grand jury testimony was set to expire in the Spring and they needed Bragg to decide whether to press charges.
But Mr. Bragg and his senior aides, masked and gathered around a conference table on the eighth floor of the district attorney’s office in Lower Manhattan, had serious doubts. They hammered Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Dunne about whether they could show that Mr. Trump had intended to break the law by inflating the value of his assets in the annual statements, a necessary element to prove the case.
The questioning was so intense that as the meeting ended, Mr. Dunne, exasperated, used a lawyerly expression that normally refers to a judge’s fiery questioning:
“Wow, this was a really hot bench,” Mr. Dunne said, according to people with knowledge of the meeting. “What I’m hearing is you have great concerns.”
The meeting, on Jan. 24, started a series of events that brought the investigation of Mr. Trump to a sudden halt, and late last month prompted Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Dunne to resign. It also represented a drastic shift: Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., had deliberated for months before deciding to move toward an indictment of Mr. Trump. Mr. Bragg, not two months into his tenure, reversed that decision.
According to Bragg, the investigation is ongoing, but his decision to not seek charges removes a threat, perhaps the greatest threat, that Trump had.
Bragg indicated after the meeting that he was unsure that Trump had intended to lie, “a requirement for proving that he criminally falsified his business records” in addition to his concerns regarding former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
In February, both attorneys resigned after Trump sent an email to the New York attorney general condemning the investigations of Bragg and James.
Trump’s email, below, excoriates everyone involved:
“The actions of the AG and DA, including the Radical Left Westchester County DA who was a Trump hating contributor at MSNBC, reveal the vile and malicious intent that underlies the nonstop barrage of insults and threats aimed at me and the Trump Organization, including their years-long review of over nine million pages of documents that go far beyond the Statute of Limitations,” Trump wrote.
“Letitia James got elected by violently attacking ‘Donald J. Trump’, even though she knew nothing about me. Likewise, District Attorney Alvin Bragg ‘bragged’ that he has sued President Trump over 100 times, more than anybody else. He is now working hand-in-hand with people from the law firm which is one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest donors. Chuck Schumer’s brother, Robert, is a partner and runs the firm. After many years as the District Attorney, the previous DA, Cy Vance, recently left without being able to charge anything other than a fringe benefits case about which the WSJ Editorial Board commented, saying ‘Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York Attorney General Letitia James subpoenaed millions of documents and years of tax returns, and that’s all they’ve come up with.’ They go on to say, ‘the political motives at work are transparent…[AG James] all but promised a selective prosecution—that is, pick a target, then search for a crime to allege…it looks like political targeting.’”
“The charge against a 74-year-old long-term and wonderful employee is that he did not pay taxes on a company car or a company apartment (Do others pay such a tax? Did Cy Vance pay a tax on his car?), and a charge having to do with my paying for the education of his grandchildren. Murderers all over the city and they are worried about me helping with young children’s education? We may be the only company ever criminally charged by a District Attorney in a fringe benefits case. I believe Allen is innocent.”
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“This crime against me is a continuation of a Witch Hunt the likes of which has never been seen in this Country before. From Russia, Russia, Russia, which has now been proven by the Durham findings to be a complete and total fraud, to the Mueller Report, Impeachment Hoax #1, Impeachment Hoax #2, and so much more, there has never been anything like it. The people of our Country are angry and upset, and losing faith in our system, and our Country itself.”
“Instead of this sham investigation of a great company that has done a spectacular job for New York and beyond, why isn’t law enforcement and the Fake News Media, which has been so destructive to our Country, looking into the fact that Hillary Clinton and her minions got caught SPYING into the office of the President of the United States, a crime so grave that it once called for the death penalty as punishment if caught. It doesn’t get any worse than that! After five years of constant bombardment, this political and racist attack must stop. Look to the murderers, drug dealers and rapists instead.”