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President Donald Trump waves to the media outside the White House on January 12, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

Then-President Donald Trump waved to the media outside the White House on January 12, 2021 in Washington, D.C. before his departure to Alamo, Texas. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

'This Is… Troubling': Prosecutors Leading NY Trump Probe Resign

One expert said the "seismic development" suggests "huge tumult on the case" and within the office of the new Manhattan district attorney.

Jessica Corbett

As former President Donald Trump signals his intention to run for reelection in 2024, people across the United States expressed alarm Wednesday after two prosecutors leading the Manhattan district attorney's probe of his business practices suddenly resigned.

"When prosecutors resign rather than go along with a new district attorney that is a sign of severe disarray internally."

"This is… troubling," tweeted NBC and MSNBC legal contributor Katie S. Phang.

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman similarly said that "this is a huge huge deal."

Los Angeles Times legal affairs columnist called it a "seismic development" that suggests "huge tumult on the case" and within the district attorney's office.

According to The New York Times, "The prosecutors, Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz, submitted their resignations after the new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, indicated to them that he had doubts about moving forward with a case against Mr. Trump."

The newspaper noted that the resignations came "amid a monthlong pause in their presentation of evidence to a grand jury" as well as "not long after the high-stakes inquiry appeared to be gaining momentum, and throws its future into serious doubt."

The probe was launched by Bragg's predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., who did not seek reelection. While the investigation has already led to charges against Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, whose trial is reportedly expected this summer, the term for the grand jury that Vance convened last year will expire in April.

Dunne and Pomerantz declined to comment on their moves, and a spokesperson for Bragg told the Times he was "grateful for their service" and the investigation is ongoing.

Still, legal analysts and other political observers wondered how much longer that will be the case.

"When high-level prosecutors quit like this, it's generally because they're being ordered to do something highly unethical," tweeted Dan Froomkin of Press Watch. "In this case, they appear to have been told to stop pursuing Trump by the new DA. Wtf?"

Former federal prosecutor Shanlon Wu described the resignations as a "very disturbing sign" and said that "when prosecutors resign rather than go along with a new district attorney that is a sign of severe disarray internally and likely a DA who pays little attention to real foundation of their office which are the line prosecutors."

Renato Mariotti, another former federal prosecutor, said their resignations "are highly unusual," adding that "clearly something is up, and I suspect we'll learn more soon."

Vox senior politics correspondent Andrew Prokop outlined possible reasons for the resignations:

First is the possibility Trump critics fear—that Bragg is killing a strong investigation for his own reasons, whether those reasons may be fear of taking on the powerful, philosophical skepticism of aggressive prosecutions, or something else. However, it is worth noting that Bragg's reelection interest in deeply liberal Manhattan would likely be served by aggressively prosecuting Trump, so if anything, this hurts his political future.

Second is the possibility that Bragg is killing a weak investigation. There have long been doubts about the case Vance's team was trying to build. The indictment of Weisselberg and the Trump Organization was rather unusual: neglecting to pay taxes on fringe benefits is a criminal act, but it is rarely enforced so aggressively. As mentioned, Trump's knowledge would be hard to prove without a high-level cooperator. Still, the prosecutors who quit clearly believed in their case.

The truth could also lie in the middle—the case might not be definitively weak or strong but rather somewhere in between. So this could just be a genuine difference of opinion about the case, with no nefarious behavior necessary.

Even Michael Cohen—Trump's former fixer who pleaded guilty to criminal tax evasion and campaign finance violations—weighed in on Twitter.

"I am deeply disturbed by this report," Cohen said, sharing the Times article. "I know the information in the NYDA's possession and not to indict is a dereliction of duty to all New Yorkers and the country."

Other critics of the twice-impeached—but never convicted—former president also reiterated the importance of holding him accountable for any criminal behavior.

"Sometimes, on the justice front, it's two steps up, one step back," said NBC and MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner. "But we've got to keep moving forward, we've got to keep fighting."

The Times pointed out that the prosecutors' recent pause preceding their resignations "coincides with an escalation in the activity of a parallel civil inquiry by the New York state attorney general, Letitia James, whose office is examining some of the same conduct by Mr. Trump."

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