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“IT IS”: Embattled Manhattan DA makes first statement on Trump criminal probe

“IT IS”: Embattled Manhattan DA makes first statement on Trump criminal probe

“IT IS”: Embattled Manhattan DA makes first statement on Trump criminal probe

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Ever since the resignation of the two top prosecutors leading the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s investigation into Donald Trump and the Trump Organization’s dubious tax and other financial filings, newly-elected DA Alvin Bragg has faced a barrage of criticism for failing to pursue criminal prosecution of the disgraced former president.

One of the two prosecutors, Mark Pomerantz, called the decision not to move forward now with a criminal case “contrary to the public interest” and said quite plainly:

“The team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes — he did.”

Now Bragg has finally responded to the allegations that he has dropped the ball on a case that could finally bring justice to Donald Trump by announcing that he hasn’t actually dropped the investigation into the discrepancies between what Trump filed in his tax returns and what he was providing in his loan applications to the banks that were funding his real estate ventures.

“In recent weeks, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has been repeatedly asked whether our investigation concerning former President Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization, and its leadership is continuing,” Bragg declared today. “It is.”

While Bragg had reportedly previously told the prosecution team he inherited from the previous Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., that he felt he couldn’t move forward with the case unless additional evidence was discovered or a Trump insider decided to testify against their former boss, his new stance seems influenced by the outrage over a two-tiered justice system seemingly in play with the decision to eschew an immediate indictment in the case.

“It’s open, it’s active, we have a great team in place of dedicated career prosecutors working every day,” Bragg said to  Bloomberg News earlier today. “We’re exploring evidence that’s not been previously explored. We will leave no stone unturned.”

This newfound enthusiasm for pursuing the case was welcomed by those who felt that Trump was escaping accountability for financial crimes that were obvious given the evidence already gathered over the multi-year investigation.

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The news came as the highest-ranking New York prosecutor on the state level, District Attorney Letitia James, asked Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron to fine Donald Trump $10,000 for every day that he fails to comply with an order to turn over documents subpoenaed in her civil investigation of the same crimes after losing his challenges to attempting to withhold the requested materials.

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“The ship has long since sailed on Mr. Trump’s ability to raise any such objections,” the State Attorney General’s team said in a court filing.

“Mr. Trump’s purported ‘response’ violates the court’s order; it is not full compliance, or any degree of compliance, but simply more delay and obfuscation,” the filing claims. “Mr. Trump should now be held in civil contempt and fined in an amount sufficient to coerce his compliance with the court’s order and compensate [The Office of the Attorney General] for its fees and costs associated with this motion.”

James issued a statement accusing Trump of attempting to place himself above any accountability for his illegal actions.

“Instead of obeying a court order, Mr. Trump is trying to evade it,” the NY Attorney General said. “We are seeking the court’s immediate intervention because no one is above the law.”

With James’ latest move and Bragg’s reassertion of an open criminal investigation, Donald Trump’s legal prognosis just became significantly worse.

You can read Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s full statement on the Trump investigation below:

In recent weeks, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has been repeatedly asked whether our investigation concerning former President Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization, and its leadership is continuing.

It is.

There have also been questions about the timing of the grand jury. As anyone who has worked on criminal cases in New York knows, New York County has grand juries sitting all the time.

There is no magic at all to any previously reported dates.

The team working on this investigation is comprised of dedicated, experienced career prosecutors. 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 DA’s Office, we are investigating thoroughly and following the facts without fear or favor.

The team is led by Susan Hoffinger, Chief of the Investigation Division. Susan has decades of experience as an Assistant District Attorney and a defense attorney, including New York State grand jury and trial experience, which are crucial for this investigation.

High-profile, complex investigations have been trademarks of my professional career.

As a state prosecutor and a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, I successfully brought cases involving money laundering, witness tampering, mortgage fraud, official misconduct, and bribery. And, I went wherever the facts took me, prosecuting two mayors, a city council member, an FBI agent, a former Senate Majority Leader, a District Attorney, and business executives.

Indeed, litigation involving the former president himself is not foreign to me. As the Chief Deputy at the New York State Attorney General’s Office, I oversaw the successful litigation against the former president, his family, and the Trump Foundation.

These experiences shape my approach and the investigative steps that the team is hard at work on. Prosecutors fulfilling their duties cannot and do not bring only cases that are “slam dunks.” To the contrary, every case must be brought for the right reason – namely that justice demands it. That’s what I’ve done throughout my career, regardless of how easy or tough a case might be.

I understand the public desire to know more about our investigative steps. But, the law requires secrecy during an investigation. It is a felony in New York for a prosecutor to disclose grand jury matters. And for good reason.

Doing so can create problems for cases and investigations, the individuals involved, and the criminal justice system. It can affect witness testimony or even lead to witness tampering. Unauthorized public disclosures also potentially can affect a defendant’s right to a fair trial.

While the law constrains me from commenting further at this time, I pledge that the Office will publicly state the conclusion of our investigation – whether we conclude our work without bringing charges, or move forward with an indictment.

In the meantime, we will not be discussing our investigative steps. Nor will we be discussing grand jury matters.

In short, as we have previously said, the investigation continues.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.  

Original reporting by Greg Farrell at Bloomberg News.

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