House panel subpoenas Mark Pomerantz, ex-Manhattan prosecutor who criticised pace of Trump probe

The panel is seeking to compel testimony from Mark Pomerantz, who resigned from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office last March

John Bowden
Washington DC
,Andrew Feinberg
Thursday 06 April 2023 15:16 EDT
Trump's indictment: What happens next?

The House Judiciary Committee is attempting to compel testimony from a former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney who resigned last year after criticising District Attorney Alvin Bragg for not pursuing a criminal case against former president Donald Trump.

Chairman Jim Jordan on Thursday issued a subpoena for testimony from Mark Pomerantz, a veteran New York attorney who left a high-profile law firm to serve as a prosecutor under Mr Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr, but quit the district attorney’s office last March before leaking a highly critical resignation letter to news outlets. He later authored a book on his experiences leading the district attorney’s probe into Mr Trump in which he wrote that Mr Bragg had backed off on seeking an indictment against the ex-president that had been authorised by Mr Vance before his term in office expired.

In a letter to Mr Pomerantz, Mr Jordan cited passages in Mr Pomerantz’s book in which the ex-prosecutor laid out disagreements he had with his colleagues about the strength of the case against Mr Trump, which Mr Bragg’s office laid out in a statement of facts accompanying the ex-president’s unprecedented indictment earlier this week.

Mr Jordan also cited a passage in which Mr Pomerantz wrote that saw the 45th president “as a malignant narcissist, and perhaps even a megalomaniac who posed a real danger to the country and the ideals that mattered to [him]”.

“These perceptions appear to have colored your work as a special assistant district attorney, to the point that you even resigned because the investigation into President Trump was not proceeding fast enough for your liking,” Mr Jordan said. He also accused Mr Pomerantz of having “prejudged the results” of the probe into Mr Trump, citing his resignation letter in which he said Mr Trump was “guilty of numerous felony violations” and suggested that the former prosecutor’s resignation and book contributed to what the Ohio Republican described as “political pressure” that pushed Mr Bragg to bring an indictment against the twice-impeached ex-president.

The Judiciary Committee chair had previously asked Mr Pomerantz to give evidence in a deposition voluntarily, but the ex-prosecutor had declined, citing objections from Mr Bragg’s office.

It’s unlikely that the Republican-led panel’s efforts to compel Mr Pomerantz to testify will bear fruit in the near future, as court proceedings to enforce a Congressional subpoena could drag out until the 2024 election, after which the GOP could lose control of the chamber.

While the GOP-led House could cite the former prosecutor for criminal contempt, it’s unlikely that the Department of Justice would follow through on any referral given the political nature of Mr Jordan’s oversight work, which is meant to bolster Mr Trump’s defence and aid his presidential campaign.

The subpoena to Mr Pomerantz is the latest escalation in a spat between Mr Bragg’s office and a group of Republican committee chairs — including Mr Jordan — over the indictment against Mr Trump, which they argue is politically motivated and an abuse that is characteristic of a “weaponised” criminal justice system.

Mr Jordan previously threatened to subpoena Mr Bragg himself to question him about his office’s probe into the ex-president during an appearanceon Fox Business Network’s Sunday Morning Futures last week, and a source with the Judiciary panel has told Fox News that the committee is “seriously weighing” the option.

“Everything’s on the table,” Mr Jordan said when asked if Mr Bragg would face subpoena.

But legal experts who spoke to The New York Times about Mr Jordan’s plans questioned whether such an action would be enforceable before the 2024 congressional elections, when Democrats will have a chance to retake the House — and the prosecution of Mr Trump may have already ended.

And most agree that the likelihood of a court forcing Mr Bragg to testify about an active criminal investigation is next to zero.

In context, the efforts by Mr Comer and Mr Jordan to publicly swing at the Manhattan DA look potentially more like efforts to remain in the good graces of Donald Trump’s inner circle and greater faction of the Republican Party than an actual attempt to interfere in the investigation.

Still, their rhetoric is contributing to an environment of anger on the conservative right over the criminal indictment of the GOP’s de facto leader, which has reportedly translated into unsubstantiated violent threats being received by the DA’s office.

Mr Trump appeared in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday to plead not guilty to the charges, and later in the day denounced the investigation as a political hit job at a press conference.

At the same press conference he would go on to conflate his efforts to pressure a top official in Georgia to “find” thousands of votes to add to his total, which is currently under separate criminal investigation, with his previous efforts to urge Ukraine’s president to open a politically-damaging criminal investigation into nebulous accusations about Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

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