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Bragg taps new attorney to head Trump investigation after two lead prosecutors quit

Alvin Bragg, now Manhattan district attorney, speaks on election night in New York, Nov. 2, 2021. (Craig Ruttle/AP)
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NEW YORK — Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) has asked his investigations chief to oversee the ongoing probe into former president Donald Trump and his business practices, a day after the abrupt resignations of two veteran attorneys who had been leading the case.

Susan Hoffinger, also an experienced litigator and recent addition to Bragg’s executive team, will captain what has been described as a squad of about 25 lawyers, paralegals and analysts. Over more than three years, the group has pored through millions of records relating to Trump and operations at the Trump Organization, his family-run company, focusing most recently on whether assets were illegally overvalued to secure better terms on loans and insurance rates, and undervalued to get tax breaks.

Bragg’s announcement Thursday follows the dramatic departure of Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, whose resignations signaled a marked shift in the probe. Multiple people with knowledge of the matter said Dunne and Pomerantz felt Bragg, who took office Jan. 1, was not interested in pursuing a case against Trump and had not given them direction on how to proceed.

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Bragg’s office has said the case, which he inherited from his predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D), is proceeding. On Thursday, his spokesperson said it was “not true” that Bragg was unconcerned with advancing the matter.

“As we said yesterday, the investigation remains ongoing,” said Bragg spokeswoman Danielle Filson, adding that Hoffinger “will lead the strong team that is in place.”

The case gained significant notoriety under Vance as he fought to obtain Trump’s tax returns and related records — a drawn-out battle that was won at the Supreme Court. Since obtaining the records a year ago, prosecutors secured an indictment from a previous grand jury against the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, alleging 15-year tax fraud.

A second six-month grand jury that was expected to hear evidence for possible charges related to Trump Organization’s alleged practice of manipulating asset values was convened in the fall.

Vance had authorized his prosecutors to seek an indictment against Trump, two people with knowledge of the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive process. But that did not happen before he left office at the end of the year.

Dunne and Pomerantz believed Bragg would similarly seek an indictment, the people familiar with the situation said. But their new boss was slow to read their memos or meet with them, and they grew increasingly frustrated, concluding they were losing momentum that had been initiated under Vance, the people said.

The grand jury’s term is set to expire this spring.

Trump and his legal team have repeatedly denied wrongdoing and have said the investigation, which is being conducted in partnership with New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), is politically motivated. James has a parallel civil probe covering the same subject areas, which could result in a lawsuit.

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Dunne did not return messages Wednesday or Thursday, and Pomerantz has declined to elaborate on his decision to leave.

Hoffinger could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday. She has significant legal experience on both sides of criminal law and was a prosecutor in Manhattan from 1992 to 2000 under longtime district attorney Robert Morgenthau (D).

Hoffinger left her family’s law firm after many years doing defense work to work for Bragg. In private practice, she handled white-collar cases.

With her sister, Fran Hoffinger, Hoffinger defended Vilma Bautista, who was an aide to former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos in a case that was prosecuted by the district attorney’s office where she now works.

Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.