And Trump is not thrilled.
The ups and downs of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office criminal investigations of Donald Trump are hard to follow, so a quick summary is in order.
This criminal investigation by this local prosecutor into Trump’s finances, and that of the Trump Organization, started in 2019 as then District Attorney Cyrus Vance subpoenaed Trump’s accountants for his tax records. Trump challenged the subpoena and in July 2020 the Supreme Court ruled in Vance’s favor. Still Trump challenged, arguing that turning over his tax records should be delayed pending other cases. In February 2021 the Supreme Court again denied Trump and Vance finally got the records.
Throughout much of 2021 it looked like Vance was building a case that would culminate in the criminal indictment of Trump. In May 2021 Vance’s office formed a grand jury aimed at securing indictments for the investigation. In July 2021 that grand jury indicted the Trump Organization, and its CFO Allen Weisselberg, for a better than ten year old tax fraud scheme. Prosecutors clearly hoped to flip Weisselberg against Trump, but in the end they only partially succeeded.
Still it appeared that Vance was taking the grand jury on a path to indict Donald Trump personally. Various former members of the Trump Organization testified to the grand jury, sometimes under a grant of immunity. New attorneys were hired with vast experience in prosecuting the crimes that it was expected Trump would be charged.
Then the apparently inevitable roll to indict Trump suddenly veered off course. Vance retired on December 31, 2021 and on January 1, 2022 his protege Alvin Bragg took over the office and the investigation. Bragg began expressing doubts at pushing the prosecution all the way to Trump. In February 2022 those two big shot prosecutors resigned in frustration. One wrote a letter in protest of the decision to let Trump off the hook stating, “we have evidence sufficient to establish Mr. Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Amid a backlash Bragg publicly backpedaled pledging that the investigation continued and that if he decided to not prosecute he would state so and explain why. However, there was not much hope. The grand jury investigating Trump dissolved, and the best attorneys handling such matter left.
However, the criminal cases against the Trump Organization and its CFO continued, and were successful. In August 2022 Weisselberg struck a plea deal that included securing his testimony against the Trump Organization but not so much against Trump. He was later sentenced to five months in prison and he sits in Riker’s Island as I write.
The Trump Organization criminal fraud case went to trial and on December 6, 2022 a jury convicted Trump’s company for a tax fraud scheme where the prosecution’s theory of the case was that the Trump played a central role. The Trump Organization was fined $1.6 million.
In November 2022 the New York Times reported that Bragg had reopened the investigation of potential fraud associated with Trump’s payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels and the cover up of those payments. This was a subset of broader investigation by Vance. Still it had teeth as Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, had already been convicted for the same fraudulent scheme and was enthusiastic to testify against Trump.
However, in the absence of actual evidence of an investigation, and Bragg’s history of reticence to prosecute Trump, many were skeptical if this would amount to anything.
News today that Bragg has impaneled another grand jury aimed at securing an indictment of Trump has supercharged this investigation. Witnesses identified as going before this grand jury include David Pecker, who ran the company that owns the National Enquirer. For articles by me about the connections of the National Enquirer and Pecker to this matter, see the related articles section below.
There is a disturbing caveat suggested by the NYT article linked immediately above. Apparently prosecutors, once again, are hoping to secure the cooperation of Allen Weisselberg. They are considering additional charges against him to encourage that cooperation, apparently hoping that five months on Riker’s Island will give him a fresh respect for freedom. If Bragg can’t secure that cooperation, will he once again get cold feet?
I don’t know, but this once apparently dead investigation breathes again. The only sure thing is a rambling and incoherent Trump Truth Social rant.
EDIT & UPDATE
Afore predicted rambling and incoherent Trump Truth Social rant is in the can.