- When the Manhattan DA’s Trump probe began, eager prosecutors ‘crowded’ the grand jury room.
- Even Zoom meetings with witnesses had ‘piles’ of prosecutors tuning in, one source told Insider.
- Now, probe insiders say the momentum is lost and, as one fears, ‘Trump is not going to be charged.’
Early last year — at the height of their probe into The Trump Organization — as many as nine Manhattan prosecutors at a time, and sometimes then-DA Cyrus Vance himself, would file into the grand jury room, eager to see the testimony for themselves.
During interviews, probe witnesses would find themselves in
meetings with a small crowd of prosecutors occupying the other squares of their screen, apparently also just to watch.
“There were piles of prosecutors on every call, including two from the [New York Attorney General’s] office,” one person involved in the probe told Insider. “Everything was highly staffed.”
But now, the DA’s three year investigation into alleged financial fraud at The Trump Organization appears to be losing steam.
On Wednesday, the two probe’s two lead prosecutors, Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, resigned in protest over newly-elected DA Alvin Bragg’s handling of the case, as first reported by The New York Times.
The prosecutors left behind are “just upset,” said the person involved in the probe, who asked not to be named.
“They think [Dunne and Pomerantz] were trying to stick it to Bragg by resigning publicly,” the person said. “It sounds like they wanted to charge [Donald Trump,] and Bragg just exercised his discretion, and said, ‘We don’t have it.'”
The person acknowledged they were “making a guess that these two prosecutors think they have Trump dead to rights. But that’s Bragg’s call.”
Wednesday’s resignations have only heartened Trump’s lawyers. One of them, Ron Fischetti, told Insider that they expect the DA’s office will wind up with the only criminal case they have filed to date — last summer’s tax fraud indictment of The Trump Organization and company CFO Allen Weisselberg.
“I think it’s going to work out that any case [against Trump] is going to be dropped by the DA’s office and Weisselberg is going to be all they have,” to show for themselves, Fischetti said.
“A big, massive case, and they wind up with somebody accused of getting a free car and an apartment, and tuition for his grandkids?” he added. “Ridiculous.”
Weisselberg has pleaded not guilty to charges that he conspired over the course of 15 years to hide $1.7 million in income from tax authorities. Prosecutors accused him of accepting the money as undeclared fringe benefits, including use of a Mercedes and an apartment in the former “Trump Place” on Riverside Boulevard in Manhattan.
The hard-charging Dunne, speaking at Weisselberg’s arraignment, called it “a sweeping and audacious illegal payments scheme.”
In a motion to dismiss unsealed in Manhattan Supreme Court this week, Weisselberg’s lawyers complained that the DA’s investigation, and a parallel criminal probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James, are motivated by political animus.
They also complained about the number of prosecutors who “crowded” the grand jury room during testimony in Weisselberg’s case, saying that alone warrants a dismissal of the case.
“During the presentation of this case, up to 9 prosecutors were present in the grand jury, including attorneys cross-designated by the [office of the Attorney General], senior staff members of the District Attorney’s Office, and, on occasion, the former District Attorney, Cyrus Vance,” the filing said, citing grand jury minutes turned over by prosecutors as part of the discovery process.
“At all times, only one or two prosecutors were questioning a witness or presenting evidence,” the filing said, calling the crowd of extraneous onlookers highly “unusual.”
The crowd of prosecutors was there to “intimidate and influence” the grand jury, the filing alleged.
A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has yet to rule on the motion to dismiss; the case is next in court for a pre-trial hearing in mid-June. A trial is expected to begin as early as late summer, during the final weeks of the 2022 midterm election campaign.