There has been so much understandable attention recently on Donald Trump’s corrupt efforts to undermine democracy that it’s easy to overlook all the corruption he engaged in before he railed against the election results and incited a violent insurrection. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance didn’t forget, though, and has been ramping up his probe into the former president’s tax and financial affairs—most notably, perhaps, through the hiring of a former prosecutor who helped bring down the head of the notorious Gambino crime family in the 1990s.
Vance earlier this month hired Mark Pomerantz, known for his successful prosecutions against John Gotti and other organized crime leaders. The addition, reported Thursday by the New York Times, may reflect the escalating case against Trump, and is perhaps a sign of trouble for the shady ex-president—particularly considering the mob-buster has already interviewed his former fixer, Michael Cohen. “I think Cohen may be more valuable than people are giving him credit for,” former Vance deputy Daniel Alonso told Reuters, which reported Pomerantz’s Thursday interview with the ex-Trump attorney.
“He has credibility issues,” Alonso continued, referring to the Trump team’s long-running efforts to discredit Cohen. “But the perjury he committed was allegedly at the behest of Donald Trump, at least tacitly.”
Vance has not outwardly accused Trump, his family, or his business of wrongdoing, nor has he said if he will ultimately bring charges or not. But his probe has continuously expanded since he launched it in 2018; originally focused on hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal that were coordinated by Cohen, the investigation has since grown to examine the Trump Organization, potential tax fraud, and other Trump financial matters. Trump’s legal team has called the investigation a “fishing expedition” and challenged the credibility of Cohen, who said Thursday he expects to be a “star witness” in a future case against his old boss. But with a deep understanding of Trump’s practices, and the main hit on his credibility stemming from his work with him, he could be a threat to the former president. “I don’t think that calling Cohen a perjurer ends the story,” as Alonso told Reuters, “because that opens the door to the explanation of why he perjured himself.”
Trump, whose use of murky and outright fraudulent tax practices have been well-documented, has never truly been held accountable for anything in his life—and it’s far from clear that Vance will be the one to finally do so. Trump’s critics have eagerly followed the twists and turns of other Trump investigations—Robert Mueller’s inquiry, too many congressional investigations to count, two impeachment—only to be left disappointed when his power shielded him from liability. But Trump is now a private citizen, and Vance’s investigation is just one of several legal challenges looming over him, including one into his business by New York Attorney General Leticia James and another by Georgia prosecutors into his audacious pressure campaign to undermine the state’s election results. (My colleague Bess Levin recently walked through several lawsuits and investigations.) The political system may have proven incapable of punishing Trump—but with the steady drumbeat of investigations, we may soon find out if the same is true of the legal system.
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