Charges against Manhattan in Manhattan unlikely

The investigation continues, but the charges are long gone… and may never come

Posted at 7:00 am

Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, William K. Rashbaum and Lananh Nguyen
The New York Times

(New York) When two dozen New Yorkers walked into a Manhattan court this week to fulfill their grand jury duty, they no longer envisioned the case of a man who would have been the criminal defendant of the world’s most famous.

That man, Donald Trump, may have been criminally charged by the grand jury this year for his business practices. But since Manhattan prosecutor Alvin Bragg stopped presenting evidence about Trump to jurors, new signs have emerged that the former president may not face charges in Manhattan in the near future — if at all. †

According to those in the know, at least three of the witnesses who have ever stood at the heart of the case have not heard from the prosecutor’s office in months or have not been asked to testify.

In recent weeks, a prosecutor at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, who has played a key role in the investigation, has shifted the focus of a potential case against Trump, other people with knowledge of the investigation said — a move that will follow. the resignation earlier this year of the two senior prosecutors leading the investigation.

The remaining prosecutors working on the Trump investigation left the “crisis cell” they used to prepare their grand jury presentation earlier this year, witnesses said, leaving a sprawling suite of offices and a conference room at 3 p.m. .and floor of the district attorney’s office in lower Manhattan.


PHOTO EDUARDO MUNOZ, REUTERS ARCHIVES

Alvin Bragg, Manhattan District Attorney

The end of the grand jury term at the end of the month does not prevent prosecutors from convening a new jury. But recent developments underscore the reduced likelihood of Trump being charged under Alvin Bragg, who, along with several other prosecutors, expressed concerns about the strength of the case. Some people close to the investigation believe it will not lead to charges against the former president unless a witness unexpectedly cooperates – which is unlikely in an investigation that has been going on for more than three years.

“A work in progress”

In recent weeks, Bragg’s prosecutors have issued a few additional subpoenas, indicating that they are continuing the investigation but have not found a new avenue to indict Trump. According to those with knowledge of the matter, these subpoenas, which had not yet been reported, appear to relate to the same topic that has long been under investigation, namely whether Mr. Trump has improperly inflated the value of his assets in his financial statements.

The subpoenas suggest that, rather than pursuing a new theory of the case, Mr. Bragg is interested in other entities that received Mr. Trump’s financial statements while he was seeking loans and engaged in other activities, and that prosecutors are seeking to potential victims of the former chairman.

One of the subpoenas was issued to a major financial institution that may have received Mr Trump’s financial statements. A second subpoena to the Trump Organization followed an earlier request to the company for documents related to the value of its properties. The third subpoena was addressed to the New York City bureau responsible for tracking down city suppliers, including Trump, who has had business with the city for years, operates a golf course in the Bronx and an ice rink in Central Park.

In an interview this month, Bragg said his prosecutors are questioning new witnesses and reviewing additional evidence. He declined to provide details, citing the grand jury’s nondisclosure law, but said the investigation should go ahead.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Mr. bragg.

We have experienced prosecutors at work every day. It’s not going to happen on a set schedule.

Alvin Bragg, Manhattan District Attorney

But assembling a new grand jury can pose a challenge to any case. Trump’s attorneys could argue — and a judge might agree with them — that prosecutors were improperly hunting a more supportive group of jurors.

It would also take time to prepare a new presentation of evidence and months to present a case to jurors.

Mr. Bragg’s office does not have an unlimited time to indict Trump. Witnesses may forget important information. Prosecutors would also face a deadline to file charges within five years of committing a crime, although there are some exceptions that extend the deadline. And if Mr. Trump were to announce a new presidential election, Mr. Bragg would likely come under political pressure not to indict a top White House candidate.

civil investigation

But even as the criminal investigation fades from public view, New York State Attorney General Letitia James seems poised to take action against Mr Trump as part of her investigation into whether he will value falsely inflated his assets in his financial statements – exactly what happens that is at the heart of the criminal investigation.


PHOTO EDUARDO MUNOZ, REUTERS ARCHIVES

Letitia James, New York State Attorney General

At a hearing Monday, in which a judge found Mr Trump in contempt of court for failing to fully comply with a subpoena to produce Mr Trump’s documents.me James, a lawyer in his office, said the attorney general is likely to take action against the former president in the near future. Since his investigation is civil, Mr.me James can sue, but cannot file a criminal charge.

Trump has long denied any wrongdoing and accused Bragg and Mme James, who is both black and Democrat, is politically motivated “racist”. If he is ultimately sued or charged, his attorneys will likely invoke the disclaimer that his financial statements have not been audited by his accountants and have been filed with sophisticated financial institutions that have conducted their own due diligence.

James’ office is also involved in the District Attorney’s criminal investigation, initiated more than three years ago by Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr..

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