NEW YORK (AP) — Refuting suggestions that he has lost interest in going after Donald Trump, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Thursday that a criminal investigation into the former president and his business practices were continuing “without fear or favour” despite a recent upheaval in the leadership of the probe.
In a rare public statement, Bragg denied that the three-year investigation was coming to an end or that a grand jury term expiring this month would hamper 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 release the results once it is complete.
“In recent weeks, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has been repeatedly questioned about our continued investigation of former President Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization and its leaders,” Bragg wrote. “He is.”
The Democrat’s assertion of the investigation was part of a double dose of bad legal news for Trump on Thursday.
It came shortly after the New York Attorney General’s office asked a judge to hold Trump in contempt and fine him $10,000 a day for failing to meet the 31 March to turn over documents as part of a parallel civilian investigation. Trump is appealing a subpoena for his testimony in this investigation, but not a subpoena requiring him to provide documents.
“The judge’s order was clear: Donald J. Trump must comply with our subpoena and deliver relevant documents to my office,” Attorney General Letitia James said. “Instead of obeying a court order, Mr. Trump is trying to evade it. We seek the immediate intervention of the court because no one is above the law.
Trump lawyer Alina Habba called James’s demand for sanctions ‘frivolous and baseless’, and said the former president had ‘consistently complied with numerous discovery requests’ from her office over the years. .
Bragg’s statement marked the district attorney’s first public comment on the Trump investigation since the two men leading it, Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne, resigned Feb. 23 in a dispute over the direction of the case.
Pomerantz, a former mob prosecutor, wrote in a resignation letter that he believed Trump was “guilty of numerous criminal violations” but that Bragg, who inherited the investigation when he took office in January , had decided not to file a complaint.
Pomerantz said in the letter, published last month by The New York Times, that there was “sufficient evidence to establish Mr. Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” of allegations that he falsified financial statements to guarantee loans and restore his image as a wealthy businessman.
“I believe your decision not to prosecute Donald Trump now, and based on the existing record, is wrong and completely contrary to the public interest,” Pomerantz wrote.
Bragg’s silence after the resignations and March 23 publication of Pomerantz’s letter gave rise to a narrative that the investigation was effectively dead.
After Pomerantz and Dunne left, Trump attorney Robert Fischetti told The Associated Press, “I’m a very happy man. In my opinion, this investigation is over.
Pomerantz and Dunne began the investigation under former district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
Pomerantz wrote that Vance ordered them to seek indictment of Trump and other defendants “as soon as reasonably possible,” but Bragg came to a different conclusion after reviewing the evidence.
Vance and Bragg are Democrats. No former president has ever been charged with a crime.
In his Thursday statement, Bragg attempted to pick up the narrative, warning Trump that he was not done while reassuring supporters who had backed him in part because he pledged to continue investigating. on the former president, a Republican.
Bragg said a team of “dedicated and experienced career prosecutors” are working on the investigation, led by the head of its investigative division, Susan Hoffinger, and they are “going through documents, interviewing witnesses and exploring evidence not previously explored.”
“In the long and proud tradition of white-collar prosecutions at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, we investigate thoroughly and follow the facts without fear or favor,” Bragg said.
Trump called the investigation a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
So far, the three-year investigation has only resulted in tax evasion charges against Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, over lucrative employee benefits such as rent, car payments and school fees. They pleaded not guilty.
Lawyers for Weisselberg filed court documents in February asking a judge to dismiss his case, arguing that prosecutors had targeted him as punishment because he would not turn against the former president.
Trump cited the potential danger of the criminal case as he appeals a ruling requiring him to answer questions under oath in James’ civil investigation.
Trump’s lawyers argue that James, who assigned two attorneys to work on the criminal case, is using the pretense of a civil deposition to circumvent a state law that prohibits prosecutors from calling anyone to testify before a court. criminal grand jury without granting him immunity.
James, a Democrat, said her investigation found evidence that Trump may have misstated the value of assets such as golf courses and skyscrapers in his financial statements for more than a decade.
Bragg said his career and outlook have been shaped by ‘complex and high-profile investigations’, including a trial he oversaw while a senior deputy in the attorney general’s office that led to the shutdown from Trump’s charity following allegations that he used it to advance his policy. and business interests.
“Prosecutors fulfilling their duties cannot and do not only bring cases that are ‘slam dunks,'” Bragg wrote. “On the contrary, every case must be brought for the right reason, namely that justice requires it. That’s what I’ve done throughout my career, no matter how easy or difficult a case may be.
A grand jury convened in connection with the Trump investigation last fall has not met regularly for several months and its term is set to expire soon, but Bragg said there are grand juries sitting in Manhattan all day. time and “there is no magic at all for all previously reported dates.
“In the meantime, we will not be discussing our investigative steps. Nor will we be discussing grand jury questions. Bragg wrote. “In short, as we have said previously, the investigation is continuing.”
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