NEW YORK (AP) — As the Manhattan District Attorney’s office ramps up its years-long investigation into Donald Trump again, a new book by a former prosecutor who once spearheaded the investigation details how much the former president came close to being indicted – and laments the friction with the new district attorney who froze that plan.
Mark Pomerantz writes in “People vs. Donald Trump: An Inside Account” that then-District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. cleared him in December 2021 to seek Trump’s prosecution. After sifting through various aspects of Trump’s life and business, including secret money paid on his behalf, Pomerantz writes that he agreed to a case involving allegations that Trump falsified corporate records by inflating the value of assets on the financial statements he provided. to lenders.
Vance would leave office within weeks, but expressed confidence that his successor, Alvin Bragg, would agree with his assessment and see the case through, Pomerantz writes. But Bragg and his team had other ideas, expressing trepidation at the strength of the evidence, the credibility of a key witness and ultimately deciding not to proceed, at least not as quickly as Pomerantz and co-chief prosecutor Carey Dunne had wanted. . The stagnation forced both men out of office.
“Once again, Donald Trump has managed to dance in the raindrops of accountability,” Pomerantz writes in the book, to be released Tuesday by Simon & Schuster.
The Associated Press and other outlets received copies of the book on Friday. Pomerantz is expected to appear on “60 Minutes” on Sunday and Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show on Monday as part of a promotional blitz.
The 304-page volume weaves together Pomerantz’s behind-the-scenes account of the spirited battle to accuse Trump of anecdotes from his decades-long career as a Mafia prosecutor and white-collar lawyer, sometimes drawing parallels between the two. The book also works to mitigate the drama surrounding Pomerantz’s split from Bragg over the direction of the case, which unfolded to the public last year when his resignation letter appeared in the New York Times.
Pomerantz portrays the dispute not as a ground-breaking, ground-breaking confrontation but as a legitimate difference of opinion shaped by lengthy Zoom calls and phone conversations. During the sessions, Pomerantz writes that he and Dunne would detail the pros and cons of pursuing a Trump indictment, while Bragg or his team members would push back with questions and concerns.
At first, Pomerantz writes, Bragg seemed overwhelmed with other matters — managing the huge district attorney’s office and dealing with the backlash from his approach to prosecuting certain crimes — and paid little attention to the Trump case. He writes that Bragg showed up late to an initial meeting where he was presenting the case and that Bragg ended up looking at his phone most of the time. The district attorney was more careful in subsequent sessions, Pomerantz said.
At one point, he writes, Bragg said he “couldn’t see a world” where he would indict Trump and call Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen as a witness. Cohen, who arranged secret payments to women on Trump’s behalf in 2016 and claims to have intimate knowledge of his financial dealings, was convicted in a parallel federal case of lying to Congress and had a penchant for inflating his significance for investigations, prosecutors worrying.
Aside from a few candid emails he wrote criticizing Bragg’s deliberate handling of the case, Pomerantz said his breakup with the DA wasn’t angry or violent — “there was never any yelling or yelling,” he writes. of their final conversation in February 2022 – and concludes by defending Bragg against people suggesting he had an ulterior motive for shelving a potential indictment.
“The suggestions that Alvin acted in bad faith were ludicrous, and I’m sure there will never be a shred of fact to back them up,” Pomerantz writes. “The people who accused Alvin of bribery or bribery either had no idea how these judicial decisions are made or were bloodthirsty for some action against Trump.”
Bragg’s office tried last month to stop publication of the book, raising concerns in a letter to Pomerantz and Simon & Schuster that his account could “materially prejudge ongoing criminal investigations.” In response, Pomerantz said he had followed his legal and ethical obligations and that, in his view, nothing in the book jeopardizes the investigation. Simon & Schuster said it supports Pomerantz and will publish the book as planned.
In a statement on Friday, Bragg said he has not read the book and “will not comment on any ongoing investigations because of the damage it may cause to the case.” He defended his decision to refrain from impeaching Trump and criticized Pomerantz for stepping down while the matter was still pending.
“After carefully examining all the evidence from Mr. Pomerantz’s investigation, I came to the same conclusion as several senior prosecutors involved in the case, and even those I hired: More work was needed. In other words, Mr. Pomerantz’s plane was not ready for takeoff,” Bragg said. “Our experienced and professional legal team continues to pursue the facts of this case wherever they lead us, without fear or favor. a year ago and sign a book deal.”
The New York State District Attorneys’ Association also expressed concern, writing in a statement Friday that “a former prosecutor who spoke out during an ongoing criminal investigation, of which he was a part, is unfortunate and without precedent.”
Trump has also sought to stop the book from being published, threatening legal action against Pomerantz and Simon & Schuster over what he claims are “defamatory statements” and “unfounded falsehoods” about his alleged criminal conduct. Trump has yet to realize his threat.
Messages seeking comment were left with Trump’s lawyers on Friday.
Pomerantz joined the district attorney’s office in 2021 as a special assistant district attorney to lead the Trump investigation. He writes that early in his involvement they weighed Trump’s prosecution and his company against the state’s version of the federal racketeering law, given the range of tax, fraud and other potential crimes they were investigating.
Pomerantz compared Trump’s cunning, charisma, and ability to “stay one step ahead of the law” to that of late Gambino crime family boss John Gotti, whose son, John A. Gotti, prosecuted while he was an assistant United States attorney.
By the time he arrived at the district attorney’s office, Pomerantz writes, the investigation was so extensive that it “seemed fuzzy and sprawling.” Prosecutors were looking into a variety of issues related to Trump in addition to undisclosed cash payments and valuation issues, including suspicions that he had deceived the federal government with his bid for a Washington, D.C. building that he turned into a hotel Trump.
In 2021, Pomerantz’s team charged Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, and its longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, with tax fraud and other crimes related to lucrative fringe benefits for company executives, such as l renting apartments in Manhattan and paying for luxury cars. Weisselberg pleaded guilty and is serving a five-month prison sentence. The Trump Organization was convicted in December and ordered to pay a $1.6 million fine.
Pomerantz portrays the undisclosed cash payments, the original impetus for the investigation, and an area Bragg’s team is now exploring, as perhaps the most challenging, legally fraught with potential cases against Trump. He writes that while it could be argued that Trump falsified corporate documents recording Cohen’s reimbursements as attorney fees, he could only be charged with a misdemeanor under New York law, unless prosecutors can prove he falsified the documents to cover up another crime.
Vance dropped the corner of silence in 2019, focusing the investigation’s attention on other issues, but Pomerantz said he revisited it when he joined the office in January 2021, looking for a way to press the more serious crime charges. . He considered whether Trump could be charged with money laundering and explored whether Stormy Daniels had asked for money to remain silent, thereby extorting him.
Once Bragg became district attorney, Pomerantz says he once again revisited the secret money issue — which he says has become known throughout the office as the “zombie” case — as they considered ways to argue a potential docs case. false corporate accounts relating to Trump’s financial statements. But that too was a failure.
“Over the months that I and others have been working on the case, we have developed evidence convincing us that Donald Trump had committed serious crimes,” Pomerantz writes. he.”
While a conviction was not a certainty, he writes: “I thought it was our duty to the public to bring the case to trial. While I thought we would win, I also thought losing it would be better than not even trying.
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