Former prosecutor says Donald Trump is 'guilty of numerous felony violations'
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
In this country, a prosecutor who investigated Donald Trump's business and then resigned is now saying what he learned. He says he thinks the former president is guilty of numerous felony violations and should face trial. He said so in his resignation letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. He disagreed with the decision by the Manhattan district attorney to back off the investigation.
NPR's Ilya Marritz covers Trump legal matters and is with us now. Good morning.
ILYA MARRITZ, BYLINE: Good morning.
INSKEEP: What's this letter like?
MARRITZ: It is bracingly direct. There is no reading between the lines. It's - I quit and here is exactly why I quit. The lawyer who wrote it is Mark Pomerantz. He's a highly respected attorney, known for prosecuting John Gotti - later went into private practice doing criminal defense. For the past year, Pomerantz has been working in the Manhattan district attorney's office, building a potential criminal case against the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, over his business practices, starting from the time before he was in the White House.
Last month, Pomerantz and another leading attorney on that probe both resigned. It was not expected, and that fueled speculation that the investigation of Trump had come to a halt. This letter seems to confirm that. Pomerantz says he believed the evidence was strong enough to seek an indictment, and quickly, and the district attorney, who makes the final call, did not agree. I should add that Manhattan has a new district attorney, Alvin Bragg, who was sworn in in January. That's who Pomerantz addressed his resignation to.
INSKEEP: Yeah, that change in the office seems to be part of the story. So what exactly was the difference of opinion between the prosecutor and the new DA?
MARRITZ: Pomerantz says, based on the evidence he's seen, he is confident Trump committed felonies connected with his statements of financial condition - basically misleading financial institutions like banks about his own wealth and assets, the value of his buildings - and he says the former DA, Cy Vance Jr., agreed with him, and so did the whole team. Then, a new district attorney arrived in January. Pomerantz writes that DA Alvin Bragg's decision not to move ahead was sincere, but incorrect. Quote, "I fear that your decision means that Mr. Trump will not be held fully accountable for his crimes. I've worked too hard as a lawyer and for too long now to become a passive participant in what I believe to be a grave failure of justice."
INSKEEP: Does Alvin Bragg agree that he has made this decision not to prosecute, and if so, why?
MARRITZ: No. Bragg's spokeswoman says Pomerantz has it wrong. Quote, "the investigation continues. A team of experienced prosecutors is working every day to follow the facts and the law." They're not saying that they're going to indict Trump, but they are saying that the investigation is alive. Still, the grand jury expires next month, so it's sort of hard to see where this goes from here.
INSKEEP: Very briefly, isn't this just one of a number of criminal cases surrounding the former president?
MARRITZ: Yes. Yes. DA Bragg inherited an active criminal case against the Trump Organization, the company, and its former CFO, Allen Weisselberg. The New York attorney general has a civil investigation of Trump business practices. I should say Trump has always maintained he did nothing wrong and that all this is politically motivated. What Mark Pomerantz's letter tells us is that there was a potential case against Trump, the man. It was strong enough that really experienced prosecutors said, yes, we should indict the former president. It now seems almost certain that that case will not be brought.
INSKEEP: NPR's Ilya Marritz. Thanks.
MARRITZ: You're very welcome.
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