Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in an interview with Slate legal columnist Dhalia Lithwick that he does not have inside knowledge about the various investigations initiated against Donald Trump.
However, he does see “signals” from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. that something is coming down the pike — and it is not good for the former president.
Bharara said there is little coming out of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York about Trump that provides some hint where their case stands, however, he adds that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is a different story.
“His tax returns are in the hands of Cyrus Vance Jr., the district attorney of Manhattan. They’re working to flip folks in the Trump organization. I wonder what piece of that you’re watching or are you just watching all of it? What do you expect to see in terms of accountability and having some sense that there is some closure to any of this?” Lithwick asked.
“The one that we know about most directly and most prominently is the one you mentioned, the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into Trump’s finances and business dealings,” the attorney replied.
“I don’t know because I’ve not been in the grand jury, I’ve not interviewed the witnesses. Cy Vance doesn’t call me up and tell me stuff, but there is some signaling going on.”
“Cy Vance is not running for reelection. Vance is, as they say, a lame duck. As a lame duck, he’s done certain things, including hiring an outside forensic accounting firm, which is not super unusual but it’s not that common.”
“He’s done something else that is less common, which is hiring an outside lawyer, Mark Pomerantz, who’s a very distinguished, well-respected lawyer in New York,” he added. “I’m not going to put too much weight on it, but it seems like the kind of move you make when you believe that there’s going to be a charge or there’s a good likelihood of a charge because it’s a pretty public thing to do.”
Despite the fact that such moves will possibly “alienate” those in his office, Bharara believes Vance believes it is worth it because he has a strong argument.
“It’s a pretty public thing to do. It also risks alienating people in your own office. It’s just a gut feeling that I have that taking these actions indicates to me that that office believes there’s a decent likelihood of a charge, and so that’s the one I’d be watching,” Bharara added.
“Well, when it suited him, Donald Trump inflated the value of his holdings. Otherwise, he understated the value of his holdings. Both of which can incriminate him criminally and subject him to exposure.”
That all sounds like it makes sense. There’s also the reporting that Michael Cohen, his former lawyer who was prosecuted by SDNY, “has met with prosecutors and investigators with the DA’s office like a gazillion times,” Bharara told Slate.
“All of those things, again, they’re not dispositive, but they all indicate to me that it’s a very serious undertaking.”
“They’re taking it very seriously. They’re spending a lot of resources on it, and you don’t do that if it’s a long shot, I don’t think,” he stated.