Prosecutors in charge of Trump criminal probe have resigned

February 24, 2022 GMT
FILE — Attorney Mark Pomerantz arrives at Federal Court in New York, Aug. 12, 2002. Pomerantz, one of two prosecutors in charge of the Manhattan district attorney's criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump, have suddenly resigned throwing the future of the probe into question. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)
FILE — Attorney Mark Pomerantz arrives at Federal Court in New York, Aug. 12, 2002. Pomerantz, one of two prosecutors in charge of the Manhattan district attorney's criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump, have suddenly resigned throwing the future of the probe into question. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)
FILE — Attorney Mark Pomerantz arrives at Federal Court in New York, Aug. 12, 2002. Pomerantz, one of two prosecutors in charge of the Manhattan district attorney's criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump, have suddenly resigned throwing the future of the probe into question. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)
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FILE — Attorney Mark Pomerantz arrives at Federal Court in New York, Aug. 12, 2002. Pomerantz, one of two prosecutors in charge of the Manhattan district attorney's criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump, have suddenly resigned throwing the future of the probe into question. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)
1 of 2
FILE — Attorney Mark Pomerantz arrives at Federal Court in New York, Aug. 12, 2002. Pomerantz, one of two prosecutors in charge of the Manhattan district attorney's criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump, have suddenly resigned throwing the future of the probe into question. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The two prosecutors in charge of the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump and his business dealings suddenly resigned Wednesday, throwing the future of the probe into question just as pressure was building on Trump on several legal fronts.

A spokesperson for District Attorney Alvin Bragg confirmed the resignations of Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, top deputies who had been tasked with running the investigation on a day-to-day basis. Both started on the Trump probe under former District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., and Bragg asked them to stay when he took office in January.

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Dunne, the office’s former general counsel, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in a successful, multiyear fight for Trump’s tax records. Pomerantz, a former mafia prosecutor, was brought out of private practice by Vance last year to add his expertise in white collar investigations and had been involved in questioning witnesses before the grand jury.

“We are grateful for their service,” Bragg spokesperson Danielle Filson said. She declined to comment further, saying the investigation is ongoing.

The New York Times, citing sources, reported that the grand jury investigation had stalled, with no sessions in the last month, and that Dunne and Pomerantz quit after Bragg raised doubts about pursuing a case against Trump himself. No former president has ever been charged with a crime.

So far, the nearly three-year investigation has resulted only in tax fraud charges against Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, and its longtime finance chief Allen Weisselberg relating to lucrative fringe benefits such as rent, car payments and school tuition.

Messages seeking comment were left for Dunne and Pomerantz.

Trump did not immediately respond to the news. In a telephone interview, his lawyer Robert Fischetti said: “I’m a very happy man. In my opinion, this investigation is over.”

Fischetti said Bragg has not spoken to him about the status of the investigation or potential charges against Trump but, given Wednesday’s developments, the lawyer said it appeared that the D.A. had reviewed the case and signaled to his deputies he was not inclined to pursue an indictment.

“My client has done nothing wrong,” Fischetti said.

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Duncan Levin, a former Manhattan prosecutor who represents a witness cooperating in the Trump case, said Dunne and Pomerantz resigning “signals major issues with the pending investigation.”

“What is for sure is that an enormous amount of resources have gone into this investigation and its future seems somewhat uncertain,” Levin said.

The resignations were likely to further embolden Trump, a Republican who continues to tease another run for president in 2024, after several recent legal setbacks. Trump has repeatedly railed against the New York probes as baseless and politically motivated, saying in a statement last week that Democratic prosecutors were spending “historic amounts of time, energy, and money trying to ‘get Trump.’”

But Trump’s legal challenges continue. Last week, a judge in New York ordered him to testify under oath in a parallel civil investigation focused in part on whether his company misrepresented asset values; a judge in Washington refused to dismiss conspiracy lawsuits trying to hold him liable for the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot; and the National Archives revealed that classified information was found in 15 boxes of White House records taken to his Mar-a-Lago home.

Asked if Wednesday’s developments would affect the civil probe, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office said “the investigation is ongoing and there is a robust team working on it.”

Meanwhile, the Jan. 6 committee is continuing to investigate the insurrection, and what role Trump played in inciting it, and an investigation in Georgia is continuing into whether Trump broke the law by trying to pressure state officials to throw out President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. A special grand jury is expected to be seated in May in that case and will work for up to a year.

The Manhattan D.A.’s office started investigating Trump in 2019, first examining hush-money payments paid to women on his behalf and then expanding into an inquiry into whether the president’s company misled lenders or tax authorities about the value of its properties.

Just last month, Bragg said he was proud of the continuity that Dunne and Pomerantz had brought in running the high-profile investigation as he took over the D.A.’s office from Vance, who declined to run for reelection after winning the battle over Trump’s tax returns.

“I do think the one continuity is the staffing and (Vance) brought on incredible lawyers to do it,” Bragg said in a Jan. 20 question-and-answer session with reporters.

“And they’ve been dedicated and we’ve been working and keeping them in place and thinking about the kind of resources to continue the investigation in order to then be in a position to make” decisions on the direction of the probe, Bragg said.

Bragg, limited by ethics rules from discussing the case in detail, said at the time that he was getting up to speed on the Trump investigation and that he would “follow the facts.” He didn’t offer a timeline for a charging decision.

“It’s a matter that’s personally, as you would imagine, on my radar screen and that I’m mindful of and paying attention to,” Bragg said.

Weisselberg, the only person charged in the investigation, has pleaded not guilty to charges he collected and failed to pay taxes on more than $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation.

On Tuesday, lawyers for Weisselberg and the Trump Organization filed court papers seeking to throw out the case. Weisselberg’s lawyers argued the D.A.’s office was targeting him as punishment because he wouldn’t flip on the former president.

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Associated Press reporters Jim Mustian in New York and Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.