End of Trump grand jury, Bragg says investigation continues

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NEW YORK – A six-month grand jury that was convened late last year to hear evidence against Donald Trump was due to expire this week, closing a chapter in a long criminal investigation that appears to be winding down without charge against the former president, people familiar with the matter said.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D), who took office in January, inherited an investigation launched by his predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who was convinced there was a case against Trump for crimes related to the manipulation of the value of real estate assets. for tax benefits or better loan rates.

The grand jury was convened in November with a mandate to hear evidence against the former president. But the decision of whether or not to complete the presentation and ask the panel to vote on the charges would ultimately rest with Bragg, who decided to put the process on hold, according to people with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the information that has not been publicly stated.

According to some of those people, a key issue was Bragg’s concern about whether former Trump fixer Michael Cohen should be used as a witness.

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Bragg said he would announce the end of the investigation, noting that even after the special grand jury disbands, other grand juries hearing a wide range of criminal cases in New York will be available to take action in that one. here if necessary.

Still, the grand jury’s expiration — and the February departure of two senior prosecutors who said Bragg was blocking the investigation — makes any potential Trump indictments unlikely, legal watchers say. said. By the time Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne resigned, the grand jury had been inactive for weeks, with jurors told to stay home, a person with knowledge of the issue previously said.

Lawyers for the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), who is a partner in the investigation, are skeptical about opening a criminal case, people familiar with the matter said. They also spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. A spokeswoman for James said the investigation is continuing.

James is separately conducting a civil investigation into Trump’s business practices, and a lawyer in his office signaled on Monday that a lawsuit could be filed. in this case soon. A judge is holding Trump in contempt of court and fining him $10,000 a day for failing to provide the documents James is seeking or properly documenting the nature of his search for those documents.

Trump’s attorneys are appealing both that order and a ruling by New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron requiring Trump and two of his adult children to be deposed by the attorney general’s team.

On Friday, Engoron rejected an offer from Trump to serve the contempt ruling after he and his lawyers submitted affidavits. The affidavits “do not specify” who conducted the searches for the requested documents, or where and when the searches took place, the judge said. He called Trump’s two-paragraph affidavit “completely devoid of any useful detail.”

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Trump has long maintained that there is no illegal behavior — criminal or civil — connected to the valuations of the Trump Organization’s assets. His legal team accused James of a political vendetta.

Asked to comment on the grand jury’s expiration, a spokeswoman for Bragg referred to his April 7 statement, which said in part, “New York County has grand juries sitting all the time.” There is no magic at all to anything previously reported [grand jury] Appointment.”

People familiar with Bragg’s thinking said his reluctance to move forward was largely due to his lack of trust in Cohen, a former Trump lawyer and convicted felon. Cohen has written a book about his life as a Trump pal and is a frequent critic of the ex-president. He made it clear that he was willing to testify about how business has transpired at the Trump Organization if a case is brought.

He says he met with investigators from the DA’s office a dozen times before Dunne and Pomerantz left, but no one from Bragg’s team has contacted him since. Pomerantz’s resignation letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post, echoes what Cohen has said publicly about the nature of the evidence, including statements of Trump’s financial condition that have been submitted to lenders and d ‘other parts.

Trump’s “financial statements were false, and he has a long history of fabricating information relating to his personal finances and lying about his assets to banks, national media, counterparties and many others, including the American people,” Pomerantz wrote.

Cohen pleaded guilty to tax evasion, campaign finance violations and giving false information to a bank for its role in brokering silent payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, allegedly on behalf of Trump, during the 2016 campaign. Trump said he was not involved in paying Daniels and denied having an affair with her. Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his role in a Trump Organization project in Russia.

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While using witnesses convicted of crimes, especially lies, can be problematic, it is not uncommon for prosecutors to do so, especially when they have few other ways to argue their case. With Cohen’s prison term over, prosecutors can’t offer him a benefit in exchange for his participation, which could boost his credibility in front of a jury.

Cohen said Friday that he had provided credible information for the investigation, adding that “Mr. Bragg’s decision not to charge and prosecute [Trump] is a mistake that will tarnish his mandate and his career.

The district attorney’s office reportedly tried to oust other Trump insiders, particularly his longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, who was indicted with the Trump Organization in July on tax evasion charges.

This indictment stemmed from the same criminal investigation which now appears to be coming to an end. He accuses Weisselberg of 15 years untaxed compensation scheme, such as cars and apartments, for company executives.

Weisselberg showed no sign of willingness to provide information about Trump to the district attorney’s office. He and the Trump Organization could go on trial later this year.

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