Manhattan DA: Trump criminal investigation is continuing

Former President Trump blasted New York Attorney General Letitia James as an ‘operative for the Democrat Party’ and called her effort to sanction him for refusing to turn over documents requested as part of an ongoing fraud probe into his business empire ‘a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt of all time.’

‘I’ve been investigated by the Democrats more than Billy the Kid, Jesse James, and Al Capone, combined,’ Trump said in a statement. ‘This has been going on for years, and in all cases, I have been innocent.’ 

James asked a state judge Thursday to hold Trump in contempt of court for not turning over documents she subpoenaed as part of her civil probe into the former president’s business practices.

In a court filing, James said Trump failed to abide by his earlier agreement to comply ‘in full’ with her subpoena for documents and information by March 31 and asked that he be fined $10,000 a day until he complies.

‘This is just a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt of all time, by a failed Attorney General, who continues to use her office for political gain following a disastrous and embarrassing attempt to run for Governor, in which she only received a 3% approval rating, and was forced to drop out of the race by her own party, in disgrace,’ Trump began in a lengthy statement on Thursday night. 

Former President Donald Trump slammed New York Attorney General Letitia James as an 'operative for the Democrat Party'

James asked a judge to hold Trump in contempt for failing to turn over documents and has threatened to fine him $10,000 a day

Former President Donald Trump slammed New York Attorney General Letitia James as an ‘operative for the Democrat Party’. James asked a judge to hold Trump in contempt for failing to turn over documents and has threatened to fine him $10,000 a day

Trump posted a lengthy statement lambasting the investigation into his dealings

 ‘This Democrat prosecutorial misconduct began the second I came down the escalator in Trump Tower, and has continued in an attempt to silence a President who is leading in every single poll. Never before has this happened to another President, and it is an absolute violation of my civil rights,’ he said as he continued to bemoan the investigation overall.

‘As President I had two jobs—to run our Country well, and to survive. After having survived so many investigations, numerous people have said to me, ‘You must be the cleanest person alive. Nobody else could have survived this.’ But how do I get my reputation back as this unfair persecution endlessly continues?

Trump was also ordered to turn over a series of accounting and tax documents, which he has so far failed to do despite his lawyers saying he would

Trump was also ordered to turn over a series of accounting and tax documents, which he has so far failed to do despite his lawyers saying he would

Trump continued by accusing James of ignoring bigger problems facing the state and her office.

‘Letitia James is no longer working as Attorney General, she is an operative for the Democrat Party in a political prosecution. New York has been through hell, and she is an embarrassment to our legal system. James uses her office for political gain, while New York crime is up over 50 percent, a bigger increase than any other place in the Nation. Much of it is violent crime—murder, rape, and drug trafficking (which is at the highest level ever).

Trump then used the final portion of his statement to recount his own ‘successes’ during his time in office. 

‘When will the Witch Hunt against a popular former President, who had our Country Energy Independent, with no Inflation, a strong Southern Border, and no Wars (such as that which is now raging uncontrollably in Ukraine), who rebuilt our Military (including Space Force), cut Taxes, Regulations, and so much more, ever end. When will horrible and unfair political harassment and persecution in our Country finally be over. Instead, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!’

Donald Trump (C) and his children Don Jr (L) and Ivanka (R) have been ordered to submit to questioning in New York in connection with a fraud probe, but have yet to do so

Donald Trump (C) and his children Don Jr (L) and Ivanka (R) have been ordered to submit to questioning in New York in connection with a fraud probe, but have yet to do so

James’ three-year probe and a parallel criminal probe led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg have focused on whether the Trump Organization misstated the values of its real estate properties to obtain favorable loans and tax deductions.

Last week, James said her probe had found ‘significant evidence’ suggesting that for more than a decade the company’s financial statements ‘relied on misleading asset valuations and other misrepresentations to secure economic benefits.’

James has questioned how the Trump Organization valued the ‘Trump brand,’ as well as properties including golf clubs in New York and Scotland and Trump’s own penthouse apartment in midtown Manhattan’s Trump Tower.

On February 17, Justice Arthur Engoron of the New York state court in Manhattan ordered Trump to produce documents covered by the subpoena by March 3, and for Trump and his adult children Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump to be questioned under oath.

Trump later obtained an extension through March 31 to produce documents. He and his children asked a state appeals court to overturn the ruling requiring their testimony.

In a March 31 filing, another lawyer for Trump objected that the subpoena was ‘grossly overbroad’ and unduly burdensome, and sought information protected by attorney-client or executive privilege.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has vowed to 'personally' focus on the high profile investigation

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has vowed to ‘personally’ focus on the high profile investigation

But James said on Thursday that Engoron’s order was not an ‘opening bid’ entitling Trump to renegotiate the subpoena.

‘The ship has long since sailed on Mr. Trump’s ability to raise any such objections,’ she wrote.

James said that given Trump’s ‘purported meticulous involvement’ at his company, ‘it seems incredible that now virtually no documents exist’ suggesting he had a personal role in reviewing asset valuations.

And while James has received Trump’s personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018, she said Trump has stonewalled on providing other materials, including documents or notes in his own handwriting.

In February, Trump’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA cut ties with him and the Trump Organization, saying it could no longer stand behind a decade of financial statements.

The Trumps have called James’ probe ‘a politically-motivated gambit that was commenced in bad faith,’ and intended to advance her career at their expense.

James, a Democrat, is seeking reelection in November. Trump, a Republican, may seek a second White House term in 2024.

The status of Bragg’s criminal probe has been uncertain, following the resignation in February of the two senior prosecutors who had led it.

According to the New York Times, Bragg, who took office in January and inherited the criminal probe from fellow Democrat Cyrus Vance Jr, has expressed doubts about charging Trump.

In a statement on Thursday, Bragg said his office’s investigation is continuing and defended his handling of it.

‘Prosecutors fulfilling their duties cannot and do not bring only cases that are ‘slam dunks,” he said. ‘I pledge that the office will publicly state the conclusion of our investigation – whether we conclude our work without bringing charges, or move forward with an indictment.’  

Refuting suggestions that he´s lost interest in going after Trump, Bragg said Thursday a criminal investigation is continuing ‘without fear or favor’ despite a recent shakeup in the probe’s leadership.

In a rare public statement, Bragg denied that the three-year investigation was winding down or that a grand jury term expiring this month would impede his office’s ability to bring charges.

Citing secrecy rules, the district attorney said he couldn’t discuss details of the probe but pledged to publicly disclose findings when it’s over.

‘In recent weeks, the Manhattan District Attorney´s Office has been repeatedly asked whether our investigation concerning former President Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization, and its leadership is continuing,’ Bragg wrote. ‘It is.’

In a statement on Thursday, Bragg said his office's investigation is continuing and defended his handling of it. 'Prosecutors fulfilling their duties cannot and do not bring only cases that are 'slam dunks,'' he said.

In a statement on Thursday, Bragg said his office’s investigation is continuing and defended his handling of it. ‘Prosecutors fulfilling their duties cannot and do not bring only cases that are ‘slam dunks,” he said. 

Bragg´s statement proclaiming that the Trump investigation was still active marked his first public comment on the matter since the two men who had been leading it, Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne, resigned February 23 in a dispute over the direction of the case.

Pomerantz, a former mafia prosecutor, wrote in a resignation letter that he believed Trump is ‘guilty of numerous felony violations’ but that Bragg, who inherited the probe when he took office in January, had decided not to pursue charges.

Pomerantz said in the letter, published last month by The New York Times, that there was ‘evidence sufficient to establish Mr. Trump´s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt’ of allegations he falsified financial statements to secure loans and burnish his image as a wealthy businessman.

‘I believe that your decision not to prosecute Donald Trump now, and on the existing record, is misguided and completely contrary to the public interest,’ Pomerantz wrote.

Bragg´s silence after the resignations and the March 23 publication of Pomerantz´s letter gave rise to a narrative that the investigation was effectively dead.

After Pomerantz and Dunne left, Trump lawyer Robert Fischetti told the Associated Press: ‘I´m a very happy man. In my opinion, this investigation is over.’

Pomerantz and Dunne started on the probe under former District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Pomerantz wrote that Vance had directed them to seek an indictment of Trump and other defendants ‘as soon as reasonably possible,’ but that Bragg reached a different conclusion after reviewing the evidence.

Vance and Bragg are Democrats. No ex-president has ever been charged with a crime.

In his statement Thursday, Bragg tried to wrest back the narrative, putting Trump on notice that he isn’t done while reassuring his own supporters, who backed him in part because he pledged to continue investigating the former president, a Republican.

Bragg said that a team of ‘dedicated, experienced career prosecutors’ is working on the investigation, led by his Investigation Division chief Susan Hoffinger and that they are ‘going through documents, interviewing witnesses, and exploring evidence not previously explored.’

‘In the long and proud tradition of white-collar prosecutions at the Manhattan D.A.´s Office, we are investigating thoroughly and following the facts without fear or favor,’ Bragg said.

So far, the three-year investigation has resulted only in tax fraud charges against Trump´s company, the Trump Organization, and its longtime finance chief Allen Weisselberg relating to lucrative fringe benefits such as rent, car payments and school tuition. They have pleaded not guilty.

Weisselberg´s lawyers filed court papers in February asking a judge to throw out his case, arguing that prosecutors targeted him as punishment because he wouldn´t flip on the former president.

Trump has cited potential peril from the criminal case as he appeals a ruling requiring him to answer questions under oath in James’ civil investigation.

Trump´s lawyers contend James, who assigned two lawyers to work on the criminal case, is using the guise of a civil deposition to get around a state law barring prosecutors from calling someone to testify before a criminal grand jury without giving them immunity.

James, a Democrat, has said her investigation has uncovered evidence that Trump may have misstated the value of assets like golf courses and skyscrapers on his financial statements for more than a decade.

Bragg said his career and perspective have been shaped by ‘high-profile, complex investigations,’ including a lawsuit he oversaw while a top deputy in the attorney general’s office that led to the closure of Trump’s charity over allegations he used it to further his political and business interests.

‘Prosecutors fulfilling their duties cannot and do not bring only cases that are `slam dunks,´’ Bragg wrote. ‘To the contrary, every case must be brought for the right reason – namely that justice demands it. That’s what I’ve done throughout my career, regardless of how easy or tough a case might be.’

A grand jury convened in the Trump investigation last fall hasn’t met regularly for several months and its term is expected to run out soon, but Bragg said there are grand juries sitting in Manhattan all the time and ‘there is no magic at all to any previously reported dates.’

‘In the meantime, we will not be discussing our investigative steps. Nor will we be discussing grand jury matters.’ Bragg wrote. ‘In short, as we have previously said, the investigation continues.’

Are the walls closing in on Trump? Ex-President facing developments in the legal cases against him from New York to the election and January 6 

Attorney General James’ contempt motion against Donald Trump is just the latest in a long string of legal entanglements for the former president.

He’s also facing a criminal probe from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which hit a significant roadblock in late February with the departure of the two lead prosecutors on the case. 

However Bragg said on Thursday that his investigation is still pressing forward.

Both James’ civil investigation and the criminal probe are looking into whether the Trump Organization used misleading financial statements to obtain loans and secure other deals. 

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen accused the company of doing so during a Congressional hearing in February 2019.

Along with the tax fraud investigations, the House Select Committee Investigating the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol is conducting a probe into last year’s insurrection — which is getting closer and closer to ensnaring the former president. 

Here’s a look at the former president’s most recent legal battles:

Alvin Bragg’s criminal investigation ‘continues,’ Manhattan DA’s office says

Manhattan’s new district attorney has been under mounting pressure to give an update in his criminal probe into the Trump Organization, which appeared to have sputtered to a halt as recently as late February.

In a Thursday statement shortly after James’ filing, however, Bragg vowed his office is ‘investigating thoroughly and following the facts without fear or favor.’

He did not give any new details, and declined to discuss ‘investigative steps’ and ‘grand jury matters’ but said he would make public if and when the investigation ended.

‘In short, as we have previously said, the investigation continues,’ he said.  

Capitol riot committee may want to speak with Trump

The Chairman of the House Capitol riot committee told reporters on Thursday: ‘We’ll be talking about the likelihood of a Trump interview in the not too distant future.’

The Democrat-led panel had for months been vague about if or when it intends to speak with the former president himself, as more and more members of his inner circle are caught up in the vast and fast-moving investigation.

Trump himself left the door open to cooperating with the committee. In an interview with the Washington Post published hours before Thompson’s comments, the former president said he’d decide based on ‘what the request is.’

Thompson called that answer ‘interesting’ on Thursday. 

Biden Justice Department ‘planning to investigate’ White House documents Trump took to Mar-a-Lago

The House Oversight Committee has accused President Joe Biden’s Justice Department (DOJ) of ‘interfering’ with her panel’s investigation of potential record-keeping abuses by the Trump White House. 

The DOJ is ‘taking steps’ to investigate the former president’s transfer of records — some of which were supposedly top secret — from the White House to his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

In February, the National Archives said it had to retrieve 15 boxes of presidential records from the West Palm Beach estate in the month prior. 

The Archives had said at the time the records should have been turned over at the end of the Trump administration for preservation.

It came after the agency claimed Trump tore up several documents during his administration that were meant to be kept in tact. 

The Post’s Thursday report noted that a potential investigation on the horizon could be why the DOJ is keeping the contents of those boxes from Congress. 

Bill Clinton-appointed judge deals a blow to Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary

 Reporting by Rob Crilly

A federal judge on Thursday refused Donald Trump’s request to stand aside from handling his lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, saying there was no legitimate reason why his appointment by President Bill Clinton should disqualify him.

In a strongly worded five-page ruling, Judge Donald Middlebrooks said he had never met the Clintons and hinted that Trump was ‘judge-shopping.’

‘Every federal judge is appointed by a president who is affiliated with a major political party, and, therefore, every federal judge could theoretically be viewed as beholden, to some extent or another,’ he wrote. 

Trump last month filed a suit against Clinton and a slew of other Democrats, accusing them of trying to spread smears about him during the 2016 campaign.

The case was assigned to Middlebrooks, who was appointed by President Clinton in 1997 to the Southern District of the Florida federal court.

In his Thursday ruling, he said all judges – by virtue of their appointment could be considered to have political backgrounds – but without any evidence to the contrary should be considered impartial. 

Ivanka Trump grilled by Democrat-led January 6 panel 

The closest member of Donald Trump’s orbit to sit down with the Capitol riot committee is his oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, who also served as a senior adviser during his administration. 

Ivanka was grilled by the panel via remote video link for a staggering eight hours, ending around 6 p.m.

Her husband Jared Kushner, also a former high-ranking Trump administration aide, spoke to the committee in March. 

Little is known of the details of her testimony though Chairman Thompson said she was ‘answering questions.’ 

She reportedly did not invoke the Fifth Amendment or any other claim to silence according to the New York Times, though her father told the Washington Post on Thursday that he had offered to shield her with an unspecified ‘privilege.’

He called her interview ‘harassment’ and a ‘shame.’ 

The committee previously said it has ‘firsthand testimony’ that Ivanka personally appealed to her father to stop the violence on January 6. 

Kushner’s interview was described as ‘helpful’ and Trump’s son-in-law was said to be ‘friendly’ and ‘cooperative’ with the committee, NPR reported. 

Federal judge says Trump ‘more likely than not’ broke the law on Jan. 6

U.S. District Court Judge David Carter of California said last month that Trump likely attempted to obstruct a Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021. Lawmakers had gathered to certify Biden’s electoral victory were interrupted by the former president’s supporters storming the Capitol. 

The opinion, which marks the first time a judge suggested Trump was directly involved in the insurrection, was part of an ongoing legal battle waged by pro-Trump lawyer John Eastman.

Eastman wrote a now-infamous memo detailing a legal theory on how then-Vice President Mike Pence could have unilaterally overturned the election. 

The lawyer had sued to block the Jan. 6th committee from obtaining a vast tranche of documents, including emails between himself and Trump about the 2020 election.  

Carter ruled that 101 sensitive emails should be turned over to the committee, while allowing 10 to remain privileged. 

‘The illegality of the plan was obvious. Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections,’ Carter’s opinion stated of Eastman’s legal theories.

‘With a plan this “BOLD,” President Trump knowingly tried to subvert this fundamental principle. Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.’ 

Trump loses bid to counter-sue rape accuser E. Jean Carroll 

 The former president unsuccessfully tried to seek financial damages from writer E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of raping her in a New York City department store in the mid-1990s.

Manhattan federal court Judge Lewis Kaplan said on March 11 that Trump’s argument was made in ‘bad faith’ in a bid to delay Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against him. 

Carroll sued Trump in November 2019 when he dismissed her graphic and disturbing allegations as financial and politically-motivated lies.

 It comes after the Biden Justice Department said last June it would continue to stand in for Trump in Carroll’s lawsuit, not because of the facts of the case but because of the legal basis presented by the ex-president’s office when he denied her accusations.

Kaplan had previously ruled in 2020 that Trump must remain a defendant in the case. Trump’s DOJ appealed the decision in November of that year, weeks after he lost the election.

 Top prosecutors step down from Manhattan’s Trump Organization probe

Bragg’s criminal probe of Trump faced a massive public reckoning when two prosecutors leading the Manhattan District Attorney’s criminal tax fraud investigation into Donald Trump and his family business abruptly resigned in late February.

Attorneys Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz stepped down from the case after the new Manhattan District Attorney expressed doubts over moving forward with a case against Trump, the New York Times reported. 

Sources close to the investigation said it had ground to a month-long halt in the middle of prosecutors’ presentation of evidence to a grand jury. 

At the time of reporting, Bragg’s team had also reportedly not questioned any witnesses for more than a month, after postponing a plan to grill at least one person absent the DA’s go-ahead.

The sudden shake-up threatened to derail the investigation, which was started by former District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in 2018. 

Meanwhile, the grand jury convened to help look into the Trump real estate empire’s term expires this month.   

Supreme Court refuses Trump’s request to block documents 

The Supreme Court earlier this year dealt a blow to the ex-president’s fight to keep his records away from the Democrat-led Capitol riot committee. 

Trump had challenged a DC Circuit Court opinion ordering the National Archives to turn the documents over, after the Biden administration already said it would not stand in the way.

The high court noted the DC Circuit’s statement pointing out that Trump would have lost the case even if he were still in office.

‘The questions whether and in what circumstances a former President may obtain a court order preventing disclosure of privileged records from his tenure in office, in the face of a determination by the incumbent President to waive the privilege, are unprecedented and raise serious and substantial concerns,’ the Supreme Court’s majority opinion read.

Only Justice Clarence Thomas, husband to conservative activist and Trump supporter Virginia Thomas, voted to overturn the lower court’s ruling. He did not explain why.