Posts tagged with "The New York Times"

Trump’s tax returns can be released to Congress, Justice Department says

August 2, 2021

The Treasury Department should hand over former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to House Democrats, the Justice Department said on Friday, July 29, according to a report by Bloomberg Law.

In a written opinion,  the DOJ ruled that, “the Secretary of the Treasury (“Secretary”) “shall furnish” such information to any of the three congressional tax committees—the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the Joint Committee on Taxation—“[u]pon written request from the chairman” of one of those committees.”

More specifically, the 39-page opinion stated, “We conclude that the [Treasury] Secretary must comply with the Ways and Means Committee’s June 16, 2021 request” for the tax returns and related tax information.

That decision reverses a 2019 opinion that the Treasury Department should not release the returns, which “rested upon the assertion that the Committee was disingenuous about its true objective in seeking President Trump’s tax information.”

According to Bloomberg Law, the Biden Administration has repeatedly delayed its response in court to a lawsuit seeking six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns. Lawyers for Trump, who have intervened in the suit filed by lawmakers, said in January they’d almost certainly seek to block the handover in court, making it unlikely that Democrats will get access to the documents anytime soon.

The court case is part of a multi-pronged legal effort by House Democrats to gain access to the returns, after Trump became the first president in modern history not to release them to the public. This case dates to 2019, when the House Ways and Means Committee sued to compel then-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to hand over the tax records. Under Trump, the Justice Department fought subpoenas issued by the committee, which filed a lawsuit.

Other lawsuits over the president’s tax records involving his accountants and bankers reached the Supreme Court, which ruled that Congress could not compel disclosure, at least for the time being. Those cases were sent back to the lower courts to assess whether lawmakers should narrow the scope of the information they sought.

The court has granted the district attorney in Manhattan, Cyrus Vance, access to Trump’s tax records as part of a criminal investigation into the former president’s business dealings. It’s unclear whether Vance will make those documents public.

In September 2020, The New York Times cited previously undisclosed returns in reporting that Trump had claimed chronic losses for years as a way to avoid taxes. He paid $750 in federal income tax in 2016, and paid no taxes at all in ten of the previous 15 years, the newspaper reported.

The case is Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives v. U.S. Department of the Treasury, 19-cv-1974, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

Research contact: @bloomberglaw

DOJ declines to defend Trump ally in lawsuit over January 6 insurrection

July 29, 2021

The U.S. Department of Justice declined on Tuesday, July 27, to defend a congressional ally of former President Donald Trump in a lawsuit accusing them both of inciting supporters at a rally in the hours before the January 6 storming of the Capitol, reports The New York Times.

Law enforcement officials determined that Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) was acting outside the scope of his duties in an incendiary speech just before the attack, according to a court filing. Brooks had asked the department to certify that he was acting as a government employee during the rally; had it agreed to defend him, he would have been dismissed from the lawsuit and the United States substituted as a defendant.

“The record indicates that Brooks’s appearance at the January 6 rally was campaign activity, and it is no part of the business of the United States to pick sides among candidates in federal elections,” the Justice Department wrote.

The DOJ added, “Members of Congress are subject to a host of restrictions that carefully distinguish between their official functions, on the one hand, and campaign functions, on the other.”What’s more, the Justice Department’s decision shows it is likely to also decline to provide legal protection for former President Trump in the lawsuit, The New York Times said.

According to the Times, legal experts have closely watched the case because the Biden Justice Department has continued to fight for granting immunity to. Trump in a 2019 defamation lawsuit where he denied allegations that he raped the writer E. Jean Carroll and said she accused him to get attention.

Such a substitution provides broad protections for government officials and is generally reserved for government employees sued over actions that stem from their work. In the Carroll case, the department cited other defamation lawsuits as precedent.

The Brooks decision also ran counter to the Justice Department’s longstanding broad view of actions taken in the scope of a federal employee’s employment, which has served to make it harder to use the courts to hold government employees accountable for wrongdoing.

Brooks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lawyers for the House also said on Tuesday that they declined to defend Brooks in the lawsuit. Given that it “does not challenge any institutional action of the House,” a House lawyer wrote in a court filing, “it is not appropriate for it to participate in the litigation.”

The lawsuit, filed in March by Representative Eric Swalwell (D-California) accuses Mr. Brooks of inciting a riot and conspiring to prevent a person from holding office or performing official duties.

Swalwell accused Brooks, Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr,. and his onetime personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani of playing a key role in inciting the January 6. attack during a rally near the White House in the hours before the storming of the Capitol.

Citing excerpts from their speeches, Swalwell accused the men of violating federal law by conspiring to prevent an elected official from holding office or from performing official duties, arguing that their speeches led Trump’s supporters to believe they were acting on orders to attack the Capitol.

Swalwell alleged that their speeches encouraged Trump’s supporters to unlawfully force members of Congress from their chambers and destroy parts of the Capitol to keep lawmakers from performing their duties.

During the rally, Brooks told attendees that the United States was “at risk unlike it has been in decades, and perhaps centuries.” He said that their ancestors “sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes and sometimes their lives” for the country.

“Are you willing to do the same?” he asked the crowd. “Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America?”

Mr. Swalwell said defendants in his lawsuit had incited the mob and had continued to stoke false beliefs that the election was stolen.

“As a direct and foreseeable consequence of the defendants’ false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to the defendants’ express calls for violence at the rally, a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol,” Swalwell said in his complaint. “Many participants in the attack have since revealed that they were acting on what they believed to be former President Trump’s orders in service of their country.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Why beekeeping is booming in New York: ‘A hive is a box of calm’

July 28, 2021

In April 2020, during the height of the pandemic in New York City, a delicate rescue mission took place.

Andrew Coté and three colleagues, wearing heavy-duty masks and gloves, rode an elevator, climbed two sets of stairs and struggled up a 20-feet vertical metal ladder to the roof of an empty building in Midtown Manhattan. There, they retrieved four 150-pound boxes full of hundreds of thousands of agitated bees; transported them to the street; and loaded them onto a pickup truck with others from neighboring rooftops.

The bees were then spirited away to their new home in the borough of Queens, The New York Times reports.

Indeed, although she is no longer the First Lady, Melania Trump might be proud: New Yorkers have gotten hooked on beekeeping—and their goal is to “Bee Best.”

The apiary at the Queens County Farm Museum is now a who’s who of Manhattan rescue bees. They hail from the rooftops of the InterContinental New York Barclay hotel, the Brooks Brothers flagship and the New York Institute of Technology, among other places. The apiary officially opened early last summer, which was perfect timin—since a good portion of New York’s honeybees (many of whom live atop office buildings and hotels across the city) found themselves untended and in limbo during the shutdown.

SgriAccording to the Times, since New York City legalized beekeeping in 2010, it has grown in popularity. It is a small-space activity; a hive is roughly the size of a two-drawer filing cabinet. There are now bee-focused nonprofits, public parks with pollinator gardens and jars of hyperlocal honey in abundance at green markets. The new apiary in Queens, which has basically handled overflow during the pandemic, shows how bee-crazy New Yorkers have become.

But there is also a growing concern among some scientists that honeybees, most of them imported to the city to feed this beekeeping frenzy, are a threat to New York’s native pollinators, whose dwindling populations could affect local flora and the environment at large.

When the virus slowed our lives down, encouraging us to stay in our homes, enjoy the outdoors, and focus on activities in the natural world (such as bird-watching or gardening), the zeal for urban beekeeping intensified, too. Sean Flynn, a beekeeper for over five years, took the opportunity to share his passion with his youngest daughter, Alaura, 18.

“I’ve always had this fascination with the hive mentality — it’s about the collective and the greater good,” Flynn recently told The New York Times. He put a hive in his middle daughter’s bedroom when she went off to college six years ago. He kept the windows open in his sixth-story apartment so the bees could come and go as they pleased. The neighbors never noticed.

Flynn now inspects and monitors 12 different hives in various community gardens across the city. Recently, he captured a swarm outside the Javits Center. Although he is allergic to bee stings, Mr. Flynn temporarily housed the Javits bees in his own bedroom until he could relocate them — something he has done several times before to his own detriment.

There are anywhere from 115,000 to 125,000 beekeepers nationwide, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which oversees city beekeeping, recorded 326 registered hives in 2020. While beekeepers are required to register their hives, they often don’t. Coté, the president of the New York City Beekeepers Association and a fourth-generation beekeeper, believes there are more than 600 active hives in the city.

Several establishments, like the Bushwick bakery L’imprimerie, and the New York Hilton Midtown, now have their own hives so they can make dishes and cocktails with homegrown honey, said Dan Winter, vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation and president of the Empire State Honey Producers Association. “People want to know where their honey comes from, and they like it local.”

“As far as important species go, bees are top of the list. They pollinate more than one-third of the crops that feed 90% of the world,” Winter told the Times. “Honeybees are responsible for $30 billion a year in crops.”

Jennifer Walden Weprin, the executive director of the Queens County Farm Museum, has seen renewed interest in the farm’s beekeeping courses, which started up again in the spring. The apiary’s 40 colonies, with over 2 million bees, rival the human population of the borough. The rescue bees will most likely become permanent residents now that they’re settled, but the owners of several of their former homes have expressed interest in creating new rooftop colonies.

There is a small movement afoot: Bee houses are being installed across the city. The Bee Conservancy, based in New York, created its Sponsor-a-Hive program last year in collaboration with Brooklyn Woods, a nonprofit that trains unemployed and low-income adults in woodworking and fabrication. The pine bee houses are designed with a mixture of nesting tubes for native bees to ensure a diversity of species.

“If you want local food, you really need local bees,” said Guillermo Fernandez, the founder and executive director of the Bee Conservancy. “For many bees, an area of a couple hundred feet might be their entire world, so small things can add up to a lot,” said Mr. Fernandez, who finds the chaos of the hive relaxing. “A hive is a box of calm in a frantic city,” he said. “The buzz and gentleness is quite soothing.”

Since February, Brooklyn Woods graduates have created over 350 bee houses. Christine Baerga, 31, who lives in Jamaica, Queens, has had some part in crafting most of them so far. Baerga’s life changed for the better during the pandemic, when she moved out of a homeless shelter and became a celebrated bee house artisan.

“Bees are master craftsmen and builders,” Baerga said. “They’re one of the more important creatures in the world. Without them, there is no us.”

Research contact: @nytimes

TikTok is taking the book industry by storm, and retailers are taking notice

July 20, 2021

Four years ago, author Adam Silvera released the young adult science fiction novel, They Both Die at the End, which found success and landed for a few weeks on The New York Times bestseller list.

After that fleeting experience with fame, Silvera settled in for a longer run of occasional sales and obscurity. But years later in August 2020, Silvera said his publisher noticed a significant sales bump, the start of a trend that would send the book to the top of The New York Times’ young adult paperback monthly bestseller list in April 2021, where it still reigns.

Silvera had no idea where the sales spike was coming from, according to a report by NBC News.

“I kept commenting to my readers, ‘Hey, don’t know what’s happening, but there’s been a surge in sales lately, so grateful that everybody’s finding the story years later,’” Silvera said. “And then that’s when a reader was like, ‘I’m seeing it on BookTok.’ And I had no idea what they were talking about.”

“BookTok” is a community of users on TikTok who post videos reviewing and recommending books. The group has boomed in popularity over the past year.

TikTok videos containing the hashtag #TheyBothDieAtTheEnd have collectively amassed more than 37 million views to date, many of which feature users reacting — and often crying — to the book’s emotional ending.

BookTok’s impact on the book industry has been notable, helping new authors launch their careers and propelling books like Silvera’s to the top of bestseller lists years after their original publication. Madeline Miller’s “The Song of Achilles,” E. Lockhart’s “We Were Liars” and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”—all of which were published before BookTok began to dominate the industry—are among some of the other books that have found popularity on the app years after their initial release.

Retailers like Barnes & Noble have taken advantage of BookTok’s popularity to market titles popular on the app to customers by creating specialized shelves featuring books that have gone viral.

“We’re identifying these trends as big opportunities,” Shannon DeVito, director of Books at Barnes & Noble, told NBC News. “So [Barnes & Noble store managers] say, ‘Let’s create a table, let’s create a shelf, let’s create a statement because I know I have so many customers coming in saying, ‘I saw this trending on TikTok.’’”

DeVito said Barnes & Noble began noticing upticks in sales of books last summer, particularly the “juggernauts” of “The Song of Achilles” and “They Both Die at the End.” Since then, she said, almost all Barnes & Noble locations have put BookTok tables or shelves on display.

“We’ve seen big box retailers jump at the chance to engage with the #booktok community, like Barnes and Noble creating a dedicated ‘TikTok BookTok Reads’ section both online and in-store from creator recommendations,” a TikTok representative wrote in an email to NBC News. “We’ve also seen creators and brands lean into the #BookTok community—from the publisher side, Penguin Random House is very in-tune with #BookTok trends and frequently collaborates with creators.”

The app has been pivotal for introducing younger audiences to reading, DeVito said, as well as for introducing older titles to new readers and for helping new authors find an audience.

The BookTok phenomenon also closely coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, which DeVito credits for people craving an emotional connection with others that they satisfied through reading.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Texas Democrats flee state to block GOP from passing voting restrictions

July 14, 2021

Texas Democrats fled the state on Monday, July 12, in a last-ditch effort to prevent the passage of a restrictive new voting law by the Republican-controlled Legislature, The New York Times reports.

They said they were heading to Washington, D.C., to draw national attention to their cause.

The group left Austin in midafternoon on a pair of chartered flights that arrived at Dulles International Airport just before sunset. Fifty-one of the 67 State House Democrats flew on the planes, leaders of the delegation said, and several others arrived separately in the nation’s capital—enough lawmakers to prevent Texas Republicans from attaining a quorum, which is required to conduct state business.

The hastily arranged departure added a cinematic element to the partisan wrangling in a state with a colorful political history, the Times said. Democrats have fled to neighboring states in the past to try to block legislation—including in 2003, when they traveled to New Mexico and Oklahoma in an effort to avoid Republican attempts to redraw congressional districts.

The move could paralyze the Legislature for weeks, if Democrats remain out-of-state until this special session ends in August. Still, it lays bare their limited options long-term in a Legislature in which the Republicans hold the majority in both chambers. Parliamentary procedures and efforts to add amendments can delay the process but not derail it. Republicans said Monday that the Democrats’ gambit would ultimately fail.

It’s just delaying the inevitable,” said State Representative Briscoe Cain, a Houston-area Republican who chairs the House Elections Committee. He described the move as “political theater.”

“We will eventually get it done, this special or another,” he added.

Nevertheless, by traveling en masse to Washington, the Texas Democrats were hoping to apply pressure to Democrats in the U.S. Senate, who so far have been unable to pass federal legislation to address the issue.

“We have to decide if we are going to stand for democracy,” said State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, who organized the effort to leave the state. “We want the nation to join us and we want the U.S. Senate to hear us and act.”

The move came just one day before President Biden is scheduled to deliver a major speech on voting rights in Philadelphia. Activists have been imploring the administration to address the issue with more urgency.

Research contact: @nytimes

The billionaires have touched down in Sun Valley

July 8, 2021

Top officials from business, government, and more have returned to Allen & Company’s annual gathering of power brokers in the tiny resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho, The New York Times reports.

The yearly eventthat some call “Mogulfest,” held July 11-16 this time around and hosted by the New York City-based investment banking firm, is where major deals are struck and corporate disputes are settled—or sparked. Verizon’s purchase of AOL, for example. Or Comcast’s blockbuster acquisition of NBCUniversal.

This week, corporate titans, foreign leaders, Wall Street barons and the Silicon Valley elite have made their way to the Sun Valley Lodge to talk shop. (They skipped last year because of the pandemic.)

The guest list conjures a keen sense of the postindustrial Gilded Age: the cable giant John Malone; the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg; the Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin; the Apple chief Tim Cook; as well as financial titans Warren Buffett; Bill Gates; Mike Bloomberg, and on and on. (The 90-year-old Rupert Murdoch, a regular, will sit out this year.)

Naturally, reporters are there, too. The masters of the universe will smile and wave—they’re happy to see an eager news media standing witness to their importance — but they’ll never talk about what’s really happening, who they’ve been meeting or what deals they’re contemplating. Why would they?

Research contact: @nytimes

Fox’s News changes the climate for weather TV

July 7, 2021

Weather is taking the media industry by storm. In fact, later this year, Rupert Murdoch is set to debut Fox Weather, a 24-hour streaming channel that promises to do for seven-day forecasts what Fox has done for American politics, financial news and sports, The New York Times reports.

Not to be outdone, the Weather Channel—the granddaddy of television meteorology, broadcasting from Atlanta since 1982—has announced the creation of a new streaming service, Weather Channel Plus, that the company believes could reach 30 million subscribers by 2026.

Amid a waning appetite for political news in the post-Trump era, media executives are realizing that demand for weather updates is ubiquitous—and for an increasing swath of the country, a matter of urgent concern, the Times notes.

In the past week alone, temperatures in the Pacific Northwest broke records, wildfires burned in Colorado and Tropical Storm Elsa strengthened into a hurricane over the Atlantic Ocean.

At CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, average viewership for the first half of 2021 fell 38% from a year prior. Concurrently, the audience for the Weather Channel was up 7%.

“All the networks are ramping up for this,” Jay Sures, a co-president of United Talent Agency who oversees its TV division, told the Times, adding, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that climate change and the environment will be the story of the next decade.”

 One of his firm’s clients, Ginger Zee, the chief meteorologist at ABC News, now has 2.2 million Twitter followers — more than any ABC News personality besides George Stephanopoulos.

Fox Weather’s impending debut opens a new front in the media wars, but Byron Allen, the comedian-turned-media-baron whose Allen Media Group bought the Weather Channel for $300 million in 2018, insists that he welcomes the competition. “Rupert Murdoch is very smart; he is the best of the best,” Allen said in an interview. “I am not surprised he’s coming into the weather space. Honestly, I would have been disappointed if he didn’t.”

Allen told the Times that he and Murdoch recently met for an hour in the latter mogul’s office on the Fox lot in Los Angeles. “We had a great time together,” he recalled. “Now the world will understand how big of a business the weather business is and how important it is.” (A spokesperson for Murdoch did not comment on the meeting.)

The weather media ecosystem—from iPhone apps to localized subscription sites and umbrella-toting personalities on the local 10 o’clock news—is a lucrative, if often overlooked, corner of the industry, where the battle for attention is increasingly fierce. Advertisers weary of the choppy politics and brand boycotts of the Trump years see weather as a relatively uncontroversial port in the squall.

At Fox, Sean Hannity will not be giving a forecast (yet). But Fox Weather, which will be funded by advertisers, is aggressively poaching star meteorologists from Houston, Seattle, St. Louis and other markets. It is also taking a run at major talent at the Weather Channel, with several Hollywood agents recounting frenzied bidding wars. A top Weather Channel meteorologist—Shane Brown, whose title was “senior weather product architect”— defected to Fox last month despite efforts to keep him.

The Weather Channel already is throwing some shade.

“They couldn’t even get a headline right about Tropical Storm Bill,” said Nora Zimmett, the network’s chief content officer, referring to a FoxNews.com article that some meteorologists criticized because it claimed that a relatively benign storm posed a “massive” risk to the Eastern Seaboard.

“I applaud Fox getting into the weather space, but they should certainly leave the lifesaving information to the experts,” said Zimmett, who worked at Fox News in the 2000s. She called climate change “a topic that is too important to politicize, and if they do that, they will be doing Americans a disservice.”

A Fox Weather spokeswoman shot back: “While the Weather Channel is focused on trolling FoxNews.com for unrelated stories, Fox Weather is busy preparing the debut of our innovative platform to deliver critical coverage to an incredibly underserved market.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Cheney agrees to join January 6 inquiry, drawing threats of GOP retribution

July 5, 2021

On July 1, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi  (D-California) named Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming to a newly created special committee to investigate the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

In doing so, Pelosi drew fire from House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), who suggested that Cheney—already ousted from party leadership for her insistence on calling out former President Donald Trump’s election lies —could face fresh retribution for agreeing to help Democrats investigate the deadliest attack on Congress in centuries, The New York Times reported.

McCarthy called Cheney’s acceptance of the position “shocking” and implied that she could lose her seat on the Armed Services Committee as payback. “I don’t know in history where someone would get their committee assignments from the speaker and then expect to get them from the conference as well,” McCarthy said.

The reaction was the latest bid by Republican leaders to turn public attention away from the assault on the Capitol and punish those who insist on scrutinizing the riot. It came as a fuller picture is emerging of how violent extremists, taking their cues from Trump, infiltrated the seat of American democracy just as Congress was meeting to validate President Biden’s election.

According to the Times, should McCarthy follow throughhis threat, it would be a striking move, since he has declined to penalize Republicans who have made anti-Semitic comments, called for the imprisoning of their Democratic colleagues, or spread false conspiracy theories about the origins of the assault on the Capitol.

It also would be the second time in two months that McCarthy Cheney for insisting that Congress should scrutinize the attack and Trump’s role in spreading the falsehoods about voting fraud that inspired it. In May, Mr. McCarthy led the charge to oust Cheney from her post as the No. 3 House Republican, saying her criticisms of Trump and efforts to sound the alarm about the riot were undermining party unity and hurting its chances of reclaiming the House in the 2022 elections.

“My oath, my duty is to the Constitution, and that will always be above politics,” Cheney told reporters in the Capitol, appearing alongside the seven Democrats Pelosi had selected for the 13-member panel.

According to its rules, McCarthy has the right to offer five recommendations for Republican members, but he declined on Thursday to say whether he would do so.

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump Organization attorneys have until end-of-day June 28 to persuade prosecutors not to file charges

June 29, 2021

Prosecutors in New York have given former President Donald Trump’s attorneys a deadline of Monday afternoon, June 28, to make their final arguments as to why the Trump Organization should not face criminal charges over its financial dealings, according to two people familiar with the matter, The Washington Post reports.

That deadline is a strong signal that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D) and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D)—now working together, after each has spent more than two years investigating Trump’s business—are considering criminal charges against the company as an entity.

Earlier this year, Vance convened a grand jury in Manhattan to consider indictments in the investigation. No entity or individual has been charged in the investigations thus far, and it remains possible that no charges will be filed, the Post says.

Prosecutors have shown interest in whether Trump’s company used misleading valuations of its properties to deceive lenders and taxing authorities, and in whether taxes were paid on fringe benefits for company executives, according to court documents and people familiar with the investigations.

The two people familiar with the deadline set for Trump’s attorneys spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose private conversations. Under New York law, prosecutors may file charges against corporations in addition to individuals.

Last Thursday, lawyers working for Trump personally and for the Trump Organization met virtually with prosecutors to make the case that charges were not warranted. Meetings like these are common in financial investigations. The Post notes—allowing defense attorneys a chance to present evidence before prosecutors make a decision on whether to seek charges.

Thursday’s meeting was first reported by The New York Times. Spokespeople for Vance and James declined to comment on Sunday, as did an attorney for Trump, Ronald Fischetti, and an attorney for the Trump Organization, Alan Futerfas.

People familiar with the probe confirmed to The Washington Post that prosecutors were looking at charging the Trump Organization as an entity, as well as Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, following Weisselberg’s refusal to assist in the investigation.

Trump—who on June 26 kicked off a planned series of rallies to boost his and favored Republicans’ future election prospects—still owns his businesses through a trust managed by his adult sons and Weisselberg. He gave up day-to-day management of the company while in the White House, but it is unclear what role he plays in the company’s operations now.

Last month, Trump called the investigations a “witch hunt” run by Democrats seeking to damage his future political prospects.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

The winner of this week’s Manhattan D.A. primary is poised to take over the Trump investigation

June 24, 2021

Whoever wins the Democratic primary race for Manhattan district attorney on Tuesday, June 22, isn’t just poised to take the helm of one of the most legendary prosecutors offices in New York. He or she also will inherit perhaps the highest profile investigation in the country—that of former President Donald Trump and his company, CNN reports.

The outgoing district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., is likely to decide whether to charge a case against the former president, the Trump Organization, or company executives by the end of his term in December, as CNN previous has reported.

If that happens, the next district attorney— most likely the winner of Tuesday’s primary, given the overwhelmingly Democratic makeup of Manhattan—will oversee the prosecution.

With eight contenders, the Democratic primary race for district attorney is a crowded one; and, unlike the New York City mayoral primary, it doesn’t have ranked-choice voting.

What’s more, the winner is likely to incur Trump’s very public ire if they he or she continues Vance’s work, since the former President has been quick to accuse Democrats investigating him—including Vance and New York State Attorney General Letitia James—of pursuing political prosecutions.

“If you can run for a prosecutor’s office pledging to take out your enemies, and be elected to that job by partisan voters who wish to enact political retribution,” Trump said in May, after James disclosed her office was working with the district attorney on its criminal investigation, “then we are no longer a free constitutional democracy.”

Some of the candidates already have expressed their views on the former president. Alvin Bragg, whom CNN says is widely seen as a leading contender in the race, has boasted of having sued the Trump administration more than 100 times while he was in the state attorney general’s office, where he was chief deputy. He also has noted that he led the team that sued the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which resulted in Trump personally paying $2 million to an array of charities.

“I’ve seen him up front and have seen the lawlessness that he can do,” Bragg said on the radio show “Ebro in the Morning,” in January. “I believe we have to hold him accountable. I haven’t seen all the facts beyond the public but I’ve litigated with him and so I’m prepared to go where the facts take me once I see them, and hold him accountable.”

Another leading candidate, Tali Farhadian Weinstein, has said comparatively little about Trump—noting that it would be improper to comment on the subject of an ongoing investigation.

In 2017, Farhadian Weinstein interviewed with members of Trump’s White House Counsel’s office for a federal judgeship, a position for which she had also applied during the Obama administration, according to The New York Times.

In the final debate last week, Farhadian Weinstein defended having sought the judgeship, saying: “It is not factual to say that federal judges, which are a separate part of the federal government, would work for the president. And so, to have been considered to be appointed to the federal bench while … Trump or anyone else was president, doesn’t mean that I would have been working for his administration.”

She worked as counsel to Attorney General Eric Holder and later as general counsel in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, where she successfully sued the Trump Administration to get Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers out of courthouses in Brooklyn, after finding that female victims of domestic violence were too afraid to come to court for fear of finding officers present.

Other contenders in the race also have history with Trump or his policies. Tahanie Aboushi, a civil rights lawyer, touts her experience spending four days at John F. Kennedy International Airport in the wake of Trump’s 2017 travel ban on Muslim-majority countries, where she supplied legal assistance to people detained by US Customs and Border Protection.

Candidate Lucy Lang, a veteran of the Manhattan district attorney’s office, counts as one of her senior advisers a former colleague who led the office’s investigation into Trump SoHo—which examined whether or not the Trump Organization misled potential buyers about the values of units, a probe Lang has said shouldn’t have been shuttered.

In November, she tweeted: “Today I called for the #ManhattanDA investigations into Donald Trump to continue. Immunity is not a consolation prize to losing and election, and no one is above the law. We can’t allow Donald Trump’s failed presidential campaign to absolve him of responsibility.”

But she has also taken pains to distance herself from Trump-related commentary, saying in June that “I think that one of the worst things the next District Attorney could do would be to say something on the campaign trail that would suggest anything other than complete impartiality when it comes to investigating all the cases in front of the office and putting themselves in a position where they might face a recusal motion or a removal of jurisdiction.”

Another candidate, public defender Eliza Orlins, has been more blunt in her criticism of the former president. In December, she publicly cheered Trump’s election loss, tweeting: “We did it! We got rid of Donald Trump. But that won’t change the fact that our systems inherently favor the rich and powerful and oppress the poor.”

New York state Assemblyman Dan Quart, also vying for the office, has split the difference, saying in February, “I’ve been very active and vocal on my feelings on Trump’s abuses of the rule of law, of his terrible policies, of his indecency, but that’s different than being a district attorney who has to judge each case on the merits.”

Diana Florence, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s office who left the office in January 2020 after a judge dismissed one of her cases when she failed to turn over evidence to defense attorneys, has suggested she believes Trump is due for retribution.

“I think what’s amazing about Donald Trump is that he ascended to the highest office in our nation and even before that had tremendous success and that was while doing whatever the heck he wanted to do,” she told Forbes in November. “He will now face the ability to be prosecuted. He had a brief immunity while a sitting president, but as I just talked about he had a de facto immunity for being a wealthy and powerful man for many, many years. And I believe that time will be changing.”

Research contact: @CNN