Pomerantz’s choice to step down, along with fellow prosecutor Carey Dunne, emerged from a deep well of gradually building frustration with Bragg, who had only recently replaced New York District Attorney Cy Vance.
When The New York Times first reported the resignations, sources effectively told the paper the attorneys left because Bragg had amassed too many doubts that the case could survive a grand jury.
Pomerantz would not comment to the press in February about his decision to leave. The publication of his letter on Wednesday reverses that course and presents the stakes urgently to the public.
“The investigation has been suspended indefinitely,” Pomerantz wrote. “Of course, that is your decision to make. I do not question your authority to make it and I accept that you have made it sincerely. However, a decision made in good faith may nevertheless be wrong.”
He described the failure by Bragg to prosecute—quite baldly—as “misguided and completely contrary to the public interest.”
“Because of the complexity of the facts, the refusal of Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization to cooperate with our investigation, and their affirmative steps to frustrate our ability to follow the facts, this investigation has already consumed a great deal of time. As to Mr. Trump, the great bulk of the evidence relates to his management of the Trump Organization before he became President of the United States. These facts are already dated, and our ability to establish what happened may erode with the further passage of time,” Pomerantz wrote.
When Dunne stepped down, he told fellow attorneys working the case he had to “disassociate” himself from Bragg’s decision because he felt the district attorney was “on the wrong side of history.”
According to a spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the fraud investigation into Trump and Trump organization continues.
“A team of experienced prosecutors is working every day to follow the facts and the law. There is nothing we can or should say at this juncture about an ongoing investigation,” spokeswoman Danielle Filson told CBS.
But time is of the essence: The grand jury hearing evidence assembled under Pomerantz and Dunne’s scrutiny is set to expire in April.
Well before they left, they emphasized this deadline repeatedly to Bragg. At a meeting in January, Pomerantz and Dunne told the newly sworn in official that it could take months to present the case. Bragg was reportedly well aware of the stakes—he had met with Pomerantz and Dunne weeks before in December. At that meeting, he reportedly sought an update on the case and appeared eager to pick up where his predecessor left off.
Once formally in office, Bragg started off receptive to pursuing the path toward an indictment, but that enthusiasm fizzled after New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the state’s civil investigation into Trump and the Trump Organization had turned up new evidence of fraud. That included, according to James, evidence that Trump grossly inflated property valuations to banks as well as the IRS for no fewer than a half dozen entities.
The Times reported this January:
“Ms. James highlighted details of how she said the company inflated the valuations: $150,000 initiation fees into Mr. Trump’s golf club in Westchester that it never collected; mansions that had not yet been built on one of his private estates; and 20,000 square feet in his Trump Tower triplex that did not exist.”
On the criminal side, Pomerantz and Dunne were struggling to secure a witness for their grand jury that appeased Bragg. He was opposed to proposals calling Trump’s onetime fixer, Michael Cohen, before the grand jury. Bragg cited concerns over Cohen’s trustworthiness. The special prosecutors asked Bragg’s office to consider suspending the grand jury before it expired.
The clock, however, kept running down, and Pomerantz grew more frustrated with delays. He proposed different strategies to coax Bragg, but those too fell on deaf ears. Pomerantz and Dunne allegedly conceded to Bragg just before their resignations that it would be a hard road to tread toward indictment, but it was a “righteous case that ought to be brought.”
“To the extent you have raised issues as to the legal and factual sufficiency of our case and the likelihood that a prosecution would succeed, I and others have advised you that we have evidence sufficient to establish Mr. Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and we believe that the prosecution would prevail if charges were brought and the matter were tried to an impartial jury,” Pomerantz wrote to Bragg on Feb. 23.
“No case is perfect. Whatever the risks of bringing the case may be, I am convinced that a failure to prosecute will pose much greater risks in terms of public confidence in the fair administration of justice. As I have suggested to you, respect for the rule of law, and the need to reinforce the bedrock proposition that “no man is above the law,” require that this prosecution be brought even if a conviction is not certain.”
Daniel Goldman, who served as lead counsel to Trump’s first impeachment inquiry, reacted to Pomerantz’s letter publicly on Twitter on Thursday. Goldman ran for the New York attorney general spot.
Knowing someone committed a crime and proving that crime in court are distinctly different events, Goldman said.
“The easy thing for Bragg to do would be to charge Trump. It certainly would be the politically expedient thing to do,” Goldman said.
Goldman wrote that Bragg, to his credit, has served as a former federal and state prosecutor who led probes into Trump when Bragg worked at the attorney general’s office. The newly elected official should be “applauded,” Goldman added.
Suggestions that Bragg’s decision was reached corruptly were deemed “preposterous,” he said.
An attorney for Trump, Ronald Fischetti, told The Guardian that Pomerantz’s departure was just the latest proof that prosecutors didn’t have the goods to indict Trump. Fischetti said Bragg should be “commended” for following the rule of law instead of the rules of politics.
For Pomerantz, according to his February resignation letter, it was never about politics.
“I fear that your decision means that Mr. Trump will not be held fully accountable for his crimes. I have worked too hard as a lawyer, and for too long, now to become a passive participant in what I believe to be a grave failure of justice,” he wrote.