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Sun Feb 5, 2023, 09:45 PM

Andrew Weisman-An insider's critical view of an investigation of Donald Trump

I watched the Sixty Minutes article and will watch Rachel tomorrow on this new book on the NYC DA investigation. I agree with Andrew Weisman that this book is a bad idea and may hurt prosecution of TFG. It was not a clear case against TFG and DA Bragg may have been right to delay

In his telling, the prosecutors come across as fainthearted, lacking “energy” and “enthusiasm,” and “relentlessly negative.” The team was faced with a possible first-of-its-kind prosecution of a former president, and, Pomerantz writes, the prosecutors were perhaps “a bit fearful about bringing charges against Trump,” given his well-known penchant for public retaliation. “They seemed to me,” Pomerantz observes, “to be exactly the kind of traditional, ‘let’s do things the way we have always done them’ prosecutors that kept the district attorney’s office from being resourceful and successful in white-collar cases.” Pomerantz reveals that Vance had “privately complained many times to me … about the slow-moving and ‘gun shy’ culture in the office.” Pomerantz believed the office needed a chief of staff, “a drill sergeant,” as he puts it, to “keep the team moving.” But out of the hundreds of assistant district attorneys, he argues, “there was no suitable candidate from within the office.”

Pomerantz is unfailingly polite about Vance. But if his criticisms generally about the work of the office are accurate, then the state of the long-running investigation is on Vance, not on Bragg, who was on the job for less than two months before Pomerantz resigned. Yet Bragg is scathingly faulted for not promptly greenlighting charges against Trump, charges that many had said were not ready for prime time. Indeed, in December 2021, Pomerantz and Vance brought in a “brain trust” of five outside appellate and former trial prosecutors to assess the case. That “summit meeting” occurred when Bragg was the district attorney-elect, but inexplicably no one from his transition team was invited. And the meeting did not yield a consensus that the case was strong and ready to be brought, with various participants raising serious legal and factual concerns. It is difficult to know exactly what transpired, as Pomerantz appears to fudge on the degree of consensus by saying the outside group “seemed” to agree and the “sense of the group” seemed clear. But there was no statement acknowledging an agreement that the case was solid and ready to be charged. And Pomerantz’s senior colleague walked away from the meeting saying the conversation “‘left him on the fence’ about charging Trump.”.....

But Pomerantz changes tone in a thoughtful late chapter and contemplates the issues that confronted Bragg and Vance. He lucidly describes the conundrum faced by them and the other prosecutors contemplating criminal charges against Trump. Why, he asks, had he and Vance and others been convinced that criminal charges should be brought, “while other serious and experienced lawyers had reached the opposite conclusion?” The answer focuses on the standard to be applied in bringing charges against a former president of the United States. Some have the view that if you shoot for the king, you best not miss, and that an acquittal would rend the fabric of the country, perhaps irreparably. Pomerantz eloquently lays out the counterargument: that a president should be held to at least the same standard as anyone else and that the rule of law demands it, even if a conviction is far from certain.

Pomerantz makes a compelling argument on the standard to be used in deciding whether to bring such consequential charges, but one wonders if this book risks undermining the very noble end he seeks. The DA’s investigation of Trump is widely reported to be active, and if charges are brought, this book is certainly going to be used in countless ways by the defense, including to claim selective prosecution, to try to change venues and to undermine government witnesses. If the book improperly hurts an eventual Trump prosecution, one wonders if having this account, at this time, will have been worth it.

The Stormy Daniels case makes sense in that there is a paper trail including checks signed by TFG. It appears that additional witnesses may have been lined up.

I doubt that I will buy this book but I will wait to see the interview with Rachel tomorrow

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