A special prosecutor who quit the team earlier this year says Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr. backed off from the notion of indicting former President Donald Trump because he was worried about losing the case.
The investigation had probed whether Trump fraudulently overvalued multiple assets to secure loans and then undervalued them to minimize taxes.
It was launched by Bragg's predecessor Cyrus Vance, with Bragg taking over the case when he took office in January.
“He and the new team were focused on the risk that we could lose the case,” Mark Pomerantz told The Cutting Edge, a podcast hosted by Columbia Law School professor John C. Coffee Jr. and U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.
Pomerantz and the other top prosecutor on the team, Carey Dunne, both resigned when Bragg expressed doubts about prosecuting Trump.
“It’s very hard to take somebody who has not been exposed to those facts on a trip through the capillaries of the financial statements in a meeting or even a meeting or two,” Pomerantz said on the podcast. “The devil was really in the details, and the details couldn’t be explained in kind of short form… ultimately, the DA—the incoming D.A.—and the team were not comfortable going forward. So did we do a bad job of laying out the facts? Did they not hear what we were saying? Were the facts too complicated to explain in the format that we were using?”
While Pomerantz admitted the evidence against Trump was complicated, he says that prosecutors found that Trump repeatedly lied to banks to obtain loans that “would not have been made, except for the fact that Donald Trump gave the banks personal financial statements and attested to their accuracy."
Trump has not been charged and has repeatedly described the case as a political witch hunt by a Democratic prosecutor.
In July last year, the Trump Organization and its long-serving finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, were charged with 15 felony fraud and tax evasion charges.
They pleaded not guilty, and Weisselberg's trial is due to begin sometime this fall.
The criminal investigation into Trump is very similar to a civil inquiry being conducted by New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who is also a Democrat.
In January, she said her probe had uncovered "significant evidence" of fraudulent or misleading practices at the Trump Organization.
James can sue the Trump Organization for damages over any alleged financial misconduct but cannot file criminal charges.
With additional reporting by AFP
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