The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Lawyers who investigated Trump form group to oppose anti-democratic policies

Bill Christeson holds up a sign that reads “Follow the Money” outside the Supreme Court on July 9, 2020, in Washington. The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Manhattan district attorney can obtain former president Donald Trump's tax returns while not allowing Congress to get Trump's tax and financial records, for now, returning the case to lower courts. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
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NEW YORK — Two veteran prosecutors who had led the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into Donald Trump’s business dealings say their new law firm will push back against anti-democratic policies in government.

Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz resigned from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office last year over a disagreement about how to proceed with the Trump case. They’ve since teamed up with attorney Michele Roberts, a former executive director of the NBA Players Association, to head a pro bono law firm called the Free and Fair Litigation Group.

“We’re dealing with a whole national movement that’s aimed at rolling back rights that we have taken for granted for generations,” Dunne said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Free and Fair Litigation Group expects to engage in court battles involving issues such as gun safety, voting rights and book ban efforts around the country.

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In 2020, Dunne successfully argued to the Supreme Court for Trump’s tax returns to be released to the DA’s office. The investigation led to indictments against the Trump Organization and its longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to 15 felony counts, including tax fraud, and was sentenced to five months in jail on Tuesday after testifying against the company. The company, which was convicted in December in a criminal tax fraud case, will be sentenced on Friday.

Trump’s bid for a second presidential term is too premature for a legal challenge, Dunne said, and if he is formally put on primary ballots the Free and Fair Litigation Group may join other legal advocates in pursuing challenges.

Dunne, who served as general counsel under former Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said he and others have been weighing ways in which to use the 14th Amendment’s “disqualification from holding office” section if Trump’s candidacy moves forward despite the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters. The 14th Amendment bars anyone who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding a government position.

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Roberts said she was drawn to the nonprofit firm due to concerns including the passage of restrictive voting rights bills that impact Black and low income communities. “Trump is not to be ignored but he unfortunately is not the only problem,” Roberts said.

Pomerantz, a former federal prosecutor, was not available for an interview on Wednesday. In his resignation letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, he expressed frustration over what he believed was a reluctance by the new district attorney Alvin Bragg to prosecute the ex-president.

Bragg took office at the start of 2022. Pomerantz and Dunne — who were appointed by Vance — resigned in February, less than two months after the new DA took over, over their disagreement with his approach.

Bragg has since recast the Trump investigation team. His spokeswoman Danielle Filson said Wednesday that the probe is ongoing.