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2 prosecutors leading the Manhattan DA's Trump probe have resigned

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We turn our attention to a story out of New York. There's been a shake-up in the team looking into possible criminal activity within The Trump Organization. Two of the leading attorneys in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office have resigned. We're going to go now to NPR's Ilya Marritz. Ilya, before we talk about the lawyers who have quit, remind us of the particulars of this investigation.

ILYA MARRITZ, BYLINE: Last July, the Manhattan DA, Cy Vance Jr., brought an indictment against The Trump Organization and its former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, and the core of the case is an alleged 15-year scheme to avoid paying taxes. While that case is in pretrial motions, the Manhattan DA has continued to investigate other parts of the business with a grand jury. They're interviewing witnesses, developing evidence for possible additional charges or new developments.

MARTIN: And obviously, if someone with the last name of Trump were to be charged, this would be a very big deal.

MARRITZ: Yes, and that's why this grand jury is being watched so closely. So that effort seemed to be going at a pretty strong pace at the end of last year, when Cy Vance steps down, and a new district attorney, Alvin Bragg, was sworn in. And now two lawyers who have been leading this investigation, Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, both hand in their notice on the same day. It's unexpected. Neither of them is saying why, which of course is fuel for all kinds of speculation.

MARTIN: Right. So is there anything we can say for sure about what those resignations mean?

MARRITZ: Two very experienced litigators just walked out of the Manhattan DA's office. We can say that for sure. Mark Pomerantz is known as a former federal prosecutor with expertise in organized crime. There was a lot of fanfare when he joined the team about a year ago. The other lawyer, Carey Dunne, is a longtime figure in the DA's office. He actually argued before the Supreme Court in 2020, when then-President Trump was trying to block this investigation. Dunne and the DA won that fight. Now, before he was sworn in, the new DA, Alvin Bragg, said he wanted Pomerantz and Dunne to stay as lead attorneys on that case. It matters that they both quit in this very public manner. It was first reported in The New York Times. It suggests a difference of opinion or approach or perhaps a clash of personality. We just don't know what it is.

MARTIN: So, Ilya, maybe this is a stretch, but does this mean that any charges against Donald Trump or any member of his family are now less likely?

MARRITZ: Well, I spoke with Trump's lawyer, Ron Fischetti, yesterday, who was ebullient. His view is that prosecutors don't have the witnesses or the evidence to bring a case against his client and that this shows that. That's not the message from DA Bragg's office. They say the investigation continues, even without those two lawyers. And I got it confirmed by the office of the New York Attorney General Letitia James, who has detailed two of her own attorneys to the DA's team to help them out. Tish James is separately running a civil probe into some of - some related business practices.

MARTIN: So this is still going to go on. What's next?

MARRITZ: Well, you know, in terms of this criminal investigation, the key thing to watch is the grand jury. That is supposed to end in April. At that point, DA Bragg will likely have to make a decision. He could add charges, he could add defendants, or he could drop the matter altogether.

MARTIN: NPR's Ilya Marritz. Ilya, thank you so much.

MARRITZ: You're very welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF HERR LANG'S "DEEP IN MY MIND - ORIGINAL MIX") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.