Is the New York criminal investigation into ex-president Donald Trump over or ongoing? The Manhattan district attorney yesterday made a rare public statement about the status of the probe which has been in doubt since the lead prosecutors on the case quit back in February.
The DA, Alvin Bragg Jr., told CNN on Thursday that his office is still following up evidence and pursuing leads in the investigation despite resignations of Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, two prosecutors who quit over what they thought was Bragg’s disinterest in actually charging Trump. Pomerantz’s blistering resignation letter–in which he detailed the beef between he and Bragg over whether Trump should be charged with felonies related to his company (hell yes, Pomerantz said)–was leaked last month. With Bragg’s top men on the case walking off the job and Bragg reportedly having halted a grand jury’s work on the probe, it appeared the case against Trump was going nowhere.
Not true, Bragg now says.
“We are every day following up on new evidence that we’ve secured,” Alvin Bragg Jr. told CNN in an interview. “Investigations are not linear so we are following the leads in front of us. That’s what we’re doing. ... The investigation is very much ongoing.”
The comments from Bragg, a former federal prosecutor and assistant New York attorney general, are aimed at ending speculation that he has shut down the long-running investigation and comes six weeks after the prosecutors departed and Trump’s lawyers all but declared victory.
Bragg said he wanted the public to understand that he’s restrained from discussing “the meat” of the investigation but he said when it’s over he will inform the public about his conclusion — whether it’s an indictment or closing the case without charges.
He didn’t comment on Pomerantz’s letter, which accused Bragg of betraying the public’s interest by not giving the OK to formally charge Trump.
Bragg’s interview might have been aimed at reassuring the public that his office isn’t going soft on Trump. It might be damage control for a DA dealing with the Trump case, an uptick in violent crime while also managing reform policies in New York’s criminal justice system. They may have also been a sincere, straightforward answer from a prosecutor who doesn’t yet believe the case is ready for trial, or whether it ever will be.
Either way, his comments opened more questions than they closed. Did Bragg actually shut down grand jury interviews and explicitly tell Pomerantz and Dunne they couldn’t charge Trump? Doing so wouldn’t make sense in the context of an investigation that Bragg now says will follow the evidence wherever it leads, unless Bragg has a vastly different opinion of where the evidence is leading than the resigned prosecutors (which is precisely what they’ve said since quitting). If his office is still examining evidence, who’s taking the lead now that Pomerantz and Dunne are out of the picture? Isn’t examining evidence to determine whether charges can be filed exactly what a grand jury is for?
Outside of Bragg it seems almost everybody investigating Trump is ready to take action. New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose civil investigation of Trump could refer any evidence of criminal wrongdoing it uncovers to Bragg’s office, now wants Trump held in contempt and fined $10,000 for every day the former president refuses to turn over requested documents.
A federal judge who ruled last month that a Trump attorney had to turn over a trove of emails to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot said in his ruling that it’s “more likely than not” that Trump committed multiple felonies by goading the insurrectionists on. His opinion, though, couldn’t impact whether or not Trump is charged with a federal crime; that would be up to the Justice Department.