Under Fire, Manhattan D.A. Defends Handling of Trump Investigation

The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, publicly discussed his office’s investigation into Donald J. Trump for the first time on Thursday, insisting that the inquiry has continued despite the recent resignations of two senior prosecutors who had been leading it.

Mr. Bragg said in an interview that his office had recently questioned new witnesses about Mr. Trump and reviewed additional documents, both previously unreported steps in the inquiry.

But citing grand jury secrecy rules, Mr. Bragg declined to provide details on the new steps in the investigation, which has focused on whether Mr. Trump committed a crime in inflating the value of his hotels, golf clubs and other properties. And it remains unclear whether Mr. Bragg and his prosecutors have found a productive new route in the investigation, which has already spanned more than three years.

For Mr. Bragg, a series of interviews on Thursday as well as the release of a lengthy formal statement represent an attempt to quell the intense criticism he has faced over his handling of the high-stakes investigation into the former president.

In December, Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., directed the two senior prosecutors leading the inquiry, Mark F. Pomerantz and Carey R. Dunne, to present evidence to a grand jury with the goal of seeking an indictment of Mr. Trump. Mr. Bragg, two months into his tenure, halted that presentation after disagreeing with Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Dunne on the strength of the case.

Their subsequent resignations led to public criticism of Mr. Bragg, particularly after The New York Times published a copy of Mr. Pomerantz’s resignation letter, in which he said he believed that the former president was “guilty of numerous felony violations” and that it was “a grave failure of justice” not to hold him accountable. In the letter, Mr. Pomerantz also said that the investigation had been “suspended indefinitely.”

In a nearly hourlong interview at his office on Thursday, Mr. Bragg disputed Mr. Pomerantz’s characterization of the investigation. But he did not respond directly to the details Mr. Pomerantz had disclosed, saying that the senior prosecutor’s “letter speaks for itself.”

Mr. Bragg vowed in a separate statement released Thursday to publicly announce his decision about whether or not he would seek an indictment of Mr. Trump. Until now, it was unclear whether he would do so.

“I’m the district attorney,” Mr. Bragg said in the interview. “I own this decision, whatever conclusion we come to.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly referred to the investigation as a witch hunt, and Ronald P. Fischetti, a lawyer for the former president, has said that Mr. Bragg should be applauded for “adhering to the rule of law and sticking to the evidence.”

Asked if the office was pursuing a new theory of the case, and moving away from the approach and charges that he had rejected in February, Mr. Bragg said only that he had not “shelved” anything and was taking an “all of the above” approach to the investigation.

He also declined to say whether his office had issued any new subpoenas since Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Dunne resigned.

Two people with knowledge of the investigation said that Mr. Bragg’s office did issue a new demand to the Trump Organization, but that it essentially followed up on an earlier request for documents.

In the interview and the statement, Mr. Bragg emphasized that he had assigned one of his most senior prosecutors, Susan Hoffinger, to oversee the investigation.

“The team working on this investigation is comprised of dedicated, experienced career prosecutors,” he said in the statement. “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.”

The Trump Investigations

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Numerous inquiries. Since former President Donald Trump left office, there have been many investigations and inquiries into his businesses and personal affairs. Here’s a list of those ongoing:

Investigation into criminal fraud. The Manhattan district attorney’s office and the New York attorney general’s office have been investigating whether Mr. Trump or his family business, the Trump Organization, intentionally submitted false property values to potential lenders. In February, two Manhattan prosecutors resigned, clouding the future of the district attorney’s case.

Investigation into tax evasion. As part of their investigation, in July 2021, the Manhattan district attorney’s office charged the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, its chief financial officer, with orchestrating a 15-year scheme to evade taxes. In February, lawyers for both parties asked a judge to dismiss the charges.

Investigation into election interference. The Atlanta district attorney is conducting a criminal investigation of election interference in Georgia by Mr. Trump and his allies.

Investigation into the Trump National Golf Club. Prosecutors in the district attorney’s office in Westchester County, N.Y., appear to be focused at least in part on whether the Trump Organization misled local officials about the property’s value to reduce its taxes.

Civil investigation into Trump Organization. The New York attorney general, Letitia James, is seeking to question Mr. Trump under oath in a civil fraud investigation of his business practices.

In much of the statement — and throughout the interview — Mr. Bragg laid out his credentials, which he said qualified him to lead the investigation and decide whether to seek charges against Mr. Trump. He emphasized his more than four years as a federal prosecutor and his two stints at the New York state attorney general’s office, where he rose to become the agency’s top deputy.

In those roles, Mr. Bragg’s statement said, he “successfully brought cases involving money laundering, witness tampering, mortgage fraud, official misconduct, and bribery.”

He mentioned having prosecuted elected officials, including a New York state senator, Malcolm Smith, and a City Council member, Daniel Halloran, for bribery schemes. And he noted the civil litigation he had overseen against Mr. Trump while at the state attorney general’s office, which included a lawsuit that led to the dissolution of the Trump family’s charitable foundation.

I know challenging cases and I’m bringing the rigor that I brought to those here,” Mr. Bragg said.

Mr. Bragg, who took office on Jan. 1, has had a rocky tenure. In his first week in office, he issued a memo pledging to send defendants to jail and prison only for the most serious crimes.

After a month of backlash — from police officers, business owners, elected officials and the public — the new district attorney issued a clarification emphasizing that his prosecutors were not bound by the memo and were granted the power to handle their own cases.

At the same time, Mr. Bragg was holding a series of meetings with Mr. Pomerantz, Mr. Dunne and members of the Trump investigative team, as the two senior prosecutors sought to convince the new district attorney and his top aides to allow them to continue presenting evidence to the grand jury about Mr. Trump.

But Mr. Bragg expressed concern, The Times previously reported, particularly about the possibility that the prosecutors might rely on the testimony of Michael D. Cohen, a longtime fixer for Mr. Trump who later turned against his former boss.

Mr. Pomerantz threatened to resign in January, but agreed to stay on in order to make a last-ditch attempt to convince Mr. Bragg that the grand jury presentation should continue. He and Mr. Dunne conducted a series of meetings with the district attorney in February, hoping to convince him to charge Mr. Trump with conspiracy and falsifying business records — in effect, painting the former president as a liar, rather than a thief.

But Mr. Bragg remained unconvinced, and on Feb. 22, told Mr. Pomerantz and Mr. Dunne that he was not ready to proceed. They resigned the next day.

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