Trump should have been charged with crimes, says former New York prosecutor

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Former President Donald Trump

Jonathan Ernest | Reuters

A former New York special prosecutor who dropped a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump after his boss refused to press charges at the time says if Trump “had been Kokomo’s Joe Blow, we would have been charged. without much debate.

“I believe that Donald Trump, in fact, was guilty and, secondly, that there was enough evidence in law to have supported a guilty verdict if we went ahead,” said Mark Pomerantz, the former Manhattan District Special Attorney. Prosecutor’s Office, in a new interview.

“My view is that it’s toxic to make people believe that the criminal justice system is incapable of holding people accountable if those people have enormous financial and political influence,” Pomerantz said.

“The rule of law is supposed to extend to the rich and the poor, the vulnerable, the powerful,” he added.

Pomerantz made the comments on the podcast, “Why hasn’t Donald Trump been criminally prosecuted in New York? What happened and why?” moderated by Professor John Coffee Jr. of Columbia University School of Law.

Manhattan District Court Judge Jed Rakoff participated in the interview.

The interview, published Thursday, was Pomerantz’s first since he and Carey Dunne, another prosecutor with whom he led the criminal investigation into Trump, resigned from the Manhattan district attorney’s office in February following the prosecutor’s decision. Alvin Bragg Jr. not to seek a grand jury indictment of Trump at this time.

“You know, I believed very deeply in the idea that this is a government of laws and not of men, and that means the rule of law is for everyone,” Pomerantz said.

“And I was absolutely convinced that if the defendant hadn’t been Donald Trump or the putative defendant, if it had been Joe Blow of Kokomo, we would have been charged without much debate,” he said. declared.

“You don’t give fake financial statements to banks to get loans without running the risk of being charged with a crime,” Pomerantz added.

The prosecutor’s office was known to investigate Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, for possible crimes related to the alleged practice of reporting different appraisals for the same real estate assets, depending on the circumstances, in order to maximize financial benefits under the form of tax breaks, reductions in insurance premiums and the value of loans.

The office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James is conducting a civil investigation into the Trump Organization for the same issues.

“We expected to be able to get evidence that these loans weren’t made, except that Donald Trump provided the banks with personal financial statements and attested to their accuracy,” Pomerantz said in the statement. interview.

Trump and his attorneys have denied that he and the company committed any wrongdoing.

Trump’s attorney, Ronald Fischetti, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. But Fischetti previously told CNBC he was “surprised” and “disappointed” by similar comments made public by Pomerantz, who is a former associate of his.

Bragg’s office, which did not immediately return a request for comment, said the investigation was ongoing.

The Trump investigation began under former DA Cyrus Vance Jr.

In January 2021, Vance enlisted Pomerantz, who at the time was retired from private legal practice, to work on the investigation. Pomerantz is the former chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the federal attorney’s office in Manhattan.

“I thought to myself, ‘What could be more dramatic, more exciting, more complicated than the investigation of a former president, someone who had millions of supporters and also millions of people who hated that guts? said Pomerantz in the podcast interview.

“I also thought the survey might be targeted and maybe I could make a difference, so I agreed to get involved and then went to work,” he said.

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Last year, Vance’s office obtained a 15-count indictment against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, on charges related to an alleged scheme to illegally avoid taxes on the compensation of the chief financial officer and other company executives since 2005. a criminal case is pending and the defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Bragg took over in January from Vance, who declined to seek re-election in 2021.

More than a month later, Pomerantz and Dunne resigned after Bragg halted their investigation and told them he had doubts about indicting Trump.

“We weren’t told the case would be closed,” Pomerantz said on the podcast.

“We were told that the investigation would continue. And what we were told explicitly was that an indictment would not be allowed in the current state of the case,” he said. added.

“Now, inevitably, that leads to the question, well, what’s going to change? Was there a reasonable likelihood that things would change?” said Pomerantz. “And there was no reasonable expectation that the facts would be
will change significantly in the foreseeable future.”

“I thought the case should have gone ahead, and I didn’t want to sit passively as part of an effort that I didn’t understand or didn’t believe would lead to a different outcome at the time. future,” he said.

Pomerantz wrote Bragg a scathing resignation letter, which became public in March.

In it, the lawyer said he and his team had no doubt that Trump “committed crimes” and that he was concerned that Bragg’s decision not to prosecute at the time “means that Mr. Trump will not will not be held fully responsible for his crimes”.

“People are accused of this crime, I dare say, every day of every week somewhere in the United States
United States,” Pomerantz said in the podcast interview, referring to the use of fabricated financial statements.

“I thought it was essential to charge the case to assert the rule of law,” he said. “People can quantify the risk of loss differently. You know, could we have lost the case? Sure, we could have lost the case. But I believe very deeply that sometimes it’s better to carry a case and risk to lose it than not to carry the case at all.”

Pomerantz said he was “very discouraged” after resigning to see allegations that Bragg “must have been corrupt” to decide not to press charges against Trump.

“It’s ridiculous. There was absolutely nothing to suggest any form of corruption here. It was an honest decision – a decision I deeply disagree with,” Pomerantz said.

“But the fact that you have people questioning the integrity of the district attorney for making the decision he made is a reflection of the fact that it’s a decision that I think lost people some confidence in the broad applicability of the rule of law.”

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