Former President Donald Trump committed “numerous felony violations” that could be proven to a jury “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a resigning prosecutor told Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) in a letter obtained and published by the New York Times on Wednesday.
Two of Bragg’s top prosecutors—Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz—resigned in late February. The letter published by the Times confirms suspicions that Pomerantz did so out of frustration that Bragg did not want to proceed with a criminal case, even though his predecessor Cyrus Vance (D) believed the “facts warranted prosecution.”
“As you know from our recent conversations and presentations, I believe that Donald Trump is guilty of numerous felony violations of the Penal Law in connection with the preparation and use of his annual Statements of Financial Condition,” the letter’s explanation of why Pomerantz resigned begins. “His financial statements were false, and he has a long history of fabricating information relating to his personal finances and lying about his assets to banks, the national media, counterparties, and many others, including the American people. The team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes—he did.”
When Vance tapped Dunne and Pomerantz to lead the investigative team, the hires were widely interpreted as tightening the screws on the former president. Pomerantz built his reputation on investigating and defending white collar and organized crime cases. Dunne served as Vance’s general counsel on high profile cases, and he successfully fought up to the Supreme Court to obtain Trump’s financial records from his now-former accounting firm, Mazars.
Shortly after Mazars distanced itself from those tax records, Dunne and Pomerantz resigned during what appeared to be an auspicious crossroads of the investigation. The Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg was under indictment, and Vance never intended Trump’s former trusted lieutenant to be the investigation’s biggest fish, according to the letter.
“He concluded that the facts warranted prosecution, and he directed the team to present evidence to a grand jury and to seek an indictment of Mr. Trump and other defendants as soon as reasonably possible,” Pomerantz wrote of Vance, who did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s email requesting comment.
Just days before the resignation, a Manhattan judge ordered the former president and two of his adult children to submit to a deposition in a parallel civil investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D). That ruling put former President Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. in a seeming bind. Invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination could shield them from the Manhattan DA’s criminal probe, but those answers could be used against them in civil court.
The stakes became dramatically lower after Pomerantz and Dunne’s resignations signaled the criminal case could be moribund, if not dead.
“In my view, the public interest warrants the criminal prosecution of Mr. Trump, and such a prosecution should be brought without any further delay,” Pomerantz wrote. “Because of the complexity of the facts, the refusal of Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization to cooperate with our investigation, and their affirmative steps to frustrate our ability to follow the facts, this investigation has already consumed a great deal of time.
Criminal and civil investigations against Trump and his businesses in New York derive largely from evidence and testimony by his former fixer Michael Cohen, who told Congress in 2019 that the former president inflated the value of certain assets for tax benefits. Bragg’s defenders argue that Cohen’s prosecution for false statements and his now-vocal criticism of Trump make him an imperfect witness. Some legal experts warn that Trump’s habit of never sending texts or emails could make it difficult to prove criminal intent.
In his letter, Pomerantz rejected that critiques.
“Whatever the risks of bringing the case may be, I am convinced that a failure to prosecute will pose much greater risks in terms of public confidence in the fair administration of justice,” he wrote. “As I have suggested to you, respect for the rule of law, and the need to reinforce the bedrock proposition that “no man is above the law,” require that this prosecution be brought even if a conviction is not certain.”
Braggs’s spokeswoman Danielle Filson told Law&Crime that the investigation is still live.
“The investigation continues,” Filson wrote in an email. “A team of experienced prosecutors is working every day to follow the facts and the law. There is nothing we can or should say at this juncture about an ongoing investigation.”
The term of grand jury’s investigation into Trump is scheduled to expire in April.
(Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
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