Watch CBS News

Trump lawyer demands investigation into Manhattan D.A. as possible indictment looms

Former Trump lawyer testifies before grand jury
Former Trump lawyer testifies before grand jury as possible indictment looms 01:58

An attorney for former President Donald Trump is calling for an investigation into the Manhattan district attorney's office, as prosecutors consider a possible indictment of Trump in connection with a 2016 alleged "hush money" payment to an adult film star.

Joe Tacopina, the Trump attorney, accused Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg and his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., and several prosecutors on their staff, of conducting a "politically motivated investigation," in a letter sent Friday to the commissioner of New York City's Department of Investigation.

The prosecutors "weaponized" their office, Tacopina wrote, "scouring every aspect of President Trump's personal life and business affairs, going back decades, in the hopes of finding some legal basis — however far-fetched, novel or convoluted — to prosecute him." 

A spokesperson for Bragg declined to comment. 

Vance said in an email to CBS News, "it is hard to argue the previous investigations were politically motivated."

"The United States Supreme Court — twice — rejected the former President's argument that the investigation by the Manhattan district attorney's office was politically motivated," Vance said, adding that the office's investigation previously led to the indictments and convictions of the Trump Organization's former chief financial officer and two of its companies.

The letter was sent days after Trump was invited to testify before the grand jury investigating a $130,000 wire payment to Stormy Daniels, the adult film star whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Such invitations to the subjects of investigations often indicate a charging decision is near.

Tacopina told CBS News Monday, "He won't be participating in that proceeding — a proceeding that we and most election law experts believe is with absolutely no legal merit."

Trump's former "fixer" and lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted to orchestrating the payment in the days before the 2016 election, claiming he and Trump believed it would harm Trump's presidential campaign if Daniels made public an alleged affair with the businessman-turned-politician.

Cohen is cooperating with, and encouraging, the probe and has had more than half a dozen hours-long meetings with prosecutors in the last two months. He is testifying before the grand jury Monday, two sources familiar with the matter have confirmed.

Tacopina's letter demanding an investigation contains extensive citations from a memoir by former Manhattan Special Assistant District Attorney Mark Pomerantz, who for a year beginning in February 2021 led the office's investigation into Trump.

In his book, Pomerantz writes that the payment to Daniels was known internally as the "zombie case" because it was repeatedly left for dead before being revived again by investigators.

Tacopina accused Pomerantz in his letter of a "scorched Earth" effort to prosecute Trump. Pomerantz, though, has not worked for the D.A.'s office in more than a year. He resigned in February 2022, writing in his resignation letter that he believed newly-elected D.A. Alvin Bragg was not willing to pursue charges against Trump at that time — and Pomerantz said Bragg's predecessor, Cyrus Vance, was.

Bragg has said repeatedly since that the investigation remained ongoing.

A spokesperson for Pomerantz declined to comment.

The letter claims the hush money investigation's resurrection is the result of "political pressures."

Leaving the district attorney's office after a meeting Friday, Lanny Davis, an attorney for Cohen, complimented the current prosecutors' efforts in the case.

"We were very impressed with the professionalism of this group of prosecutors," said Davis, who at various times in the last two months has called the investigation "meticulous" and "methodical."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.