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Grand jury probe of Trump's business practices is active, Manhattan DA says


Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is forcefully denying speculation that his office has ended a criminal investigation of former President Donald Trump over his business practices. Two senior prosecutors working on the case resigned in February because of disagreements with Bragg. But NPR's Ilya Marritz says the DA is adamant the grand jury investigation of Trump is active.

ILYA MARRITZ, BYLINE: When Alvin Bragg was sworn in in January, one of the most pressing decisions he faced was what to do with a potential case against Trump. Prosecutors have been developing evidence for years. And they seemed to be close to an indictment of the 45th president over financial statements that may have been misleading or false. But after being briefed on the evidence, DA Bragg suspended presentations to the grand jury. The two attorneys leading the effort promptly quit. One of them wrote a scathing resignation letter that was leaked. Mark Pomerantz said he believes Donald Trump is guilty of numerous felonies and needs to be tried in the interest of equal justice. Now Bragg says his team is, quote, "going through documents, interviewing witnesses and exploring evidence not previously explored."

REBECCA ROIPHE: It does seem like he is constantly on the defense.

MARRITZ: Rebecca Roiphe is a professor at New York Law School and a former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan DA's office. When I reached her, she was skeptical there might be new life in this probe.

ROIPHE: It's just very hard for me to imagine what more evidence he's going to find after these two seasoned prosecutors went through this very long and very intense examination of all these documents and witnesses.

MARRITZ: Another former attorney in the Manhattan DA's office, who asked that his name not be used, called the statement a nothing burger that was likely crafted, quote, "to assuage some of his supporters who are disheartened by the turn of events." It's rare for a prosecutor to speak publicly about an active investigation. Roiphe thinks Bragg may not have had much choice, given the intense interest in Trump. Whether or not Bragg ultimately decides to go for an indictment, he'll be dealing with Trump. Last summer, the DA's office brought a criminal case against the Trump Organization and its former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. That trial could begin as soon as this summer. Trump has consistently maintained that he did nothing wrong and is the target of a witch hunt, and that prosecutors are going after him for political reasons. Bragg pledged he will inform the public whatever decision he reaches on prosecuting Trump.

Ilya Marritz, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF DIEGO FRANCO'S "ENTE VIVAL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ilya Marritz