Upon word that a New York grand jury had approved an indictment of former President Donald Trump on multiple counts, many Republicans closed ranks and began attacking Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
One line of attack, from the likes of politicians as different in temperament as Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, is that Bragg’s predecessor, Cy Vance, had declined to prosecute these charges. In other words, Bragg is so out of control that he is bringing political charges rejected by calmer and cooler heads, even the Democratic district attorney who immediately preceded him.
That narrative is false, as was exposed by Jen Psaki on Sunday in her trenchant interview with Vance, who broke his post-DA silence.
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Although it took some work to tease it out of Vance (for reasons I will explain in a moment), the former DA made clear that when he left office at the end of 2021, the investigation into Trump’s business practices undertaken by his office was still not ready to prosecute — and still could quite conceivably be the subject of a superseding indictment by Bragg. Vance cited various reasons for the unresolved status in December 2021, including the Covid pandemic; needing to litigate all the way to the Supreme Court twice to get Trump’s financial documents; and the Southern District of New York’s request to Vance to stand down in the case.
And although Vance would not commit explicitly to his position on the status of the hush money investigation at the time he left office, he made it clear that he left any ultimate decisions to Bragg and would not have usurped the new DA’s prerogative.
So much for the misleading effort by MAGA Republicans and others to use Vance to attack Bragg.
Another thing the Psaki interview revealed is Vance’s disagreement with the position set out by Mark Pomerantz (a lead prosecutor in the Manhattan investigation of Trump who ironically was brought on by Vance) in his resignation letter in February 2022 (which Pomerantz now admits he leaked to The New York Times) and subsequent unauthorized book. Pomerantz claimed that Vance was all in on the financial investigation and had “directed the team … to seek an indictment,” only to have Bragg kill it soon after taking office. The narrative in the resignation letter led to a considerable public outcry against Bragg.
The Vance interview revealed that this is not an accurate characterization of the situation. While Vance seemed to try to avoid any direct contradiction of Pomerantz, he did indicate that the financial investigation, for the reasons noted above, was simply not ready by the time he left office.
If that is true, then it would make Pomerantz’s ultimatum to Bragg to greenlight the indictment just a few weeks later that much more outlandish. And it would make his characterizations in his leaked resignation letter and his book even worse, since in neither does he report that the investigation was simply not ready, as Vance told Psaki.