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Mar 22, 2023
As Manhattan DA Bragg Targets Trump, His Rivals Are Teaming Up
(Bloomberg) -- As Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg appears poised to indict former President Donald Trump, some of the prosecutor’s most prominent New York critics have gathered under one roof.
Tali Farhadian Weinstein, who is the wife of Saba Capital co-founder Boaz Weinstein, poured more than $8 million into her 2021 bid to become district attorney but lost to Bragg after a hard-fought Democratic primary race. Since her defeat, she’s taught law, entered private practice and positioned herself as a legal affairs commentator.
In January, she added to her resume board chair of Free and Fair Litigation Group. But that’s not just any legal nonprofit — the group was founded by Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, the two prosecutors who once led the Trump investigation for the DA’s office but quit last year over Bragg’s supposed reluctance to indict the former president. Pomerantz put out a book last month harshly critical of the DA.
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The team-up has raised some eyebrows in the New York legal scene.
“She ran for DA once before, and Pomerantz’s criticism of Bragg is well-documented,” said Daniel Horwitz, a former prosecutor in the office. “It does raise a question about whether there are multiple agendas at work here.”
‘Birds of a Feather’
“Birds of a feather flock together,” observed public defender Eliza Orlins, who ran against both Bragg and Farhadian Weinstein in the DA race.
Farhadian Weinstein, Pomerantz and Dunne didn’t respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for Bragg declined to comment.
Free and Fair was announced as a “nonprofit law firm designed to counter the new authoritarian threat to our democracy and individual rights,” citing gun safety, voting rights and book bans among its core issues. But Dunne and Pomerantz also touted their democracy-defending credentials in the announcement by noting that they “resigned their government posts when their grand jury presentation was shut down,” a clear dig at Bragg.
In his February book People v. Donald Trump, Pomerantz claims Bragg balked at an ambitious criminal fraud case he and Dunne had been building against Trump, possibly because the DA was afraid to risk losing at trial.
Pomerantz also wrote that a “zombie” prosecution of Trump over his alleged hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels would be a “very peculiar and unsatisfying end” to the investigation because the charge might end up being only a misdemeanor.
Wall Street’s Pick
Bragg, who called Pomerantz’s criticisms “appalling,” began ramping up the investigation again earlier this year and now appears close to charging Trump over the hush-money payment.
During the DA primary, Farhadian Weinstein, a Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law School graduate, positioned herself somewhat to the right of Bragg, though both ran as ex-federal prosecutors who would balance social-justice concerns while still being tough on crime. Bragg more heavily emphasized decriminalizing certain offenses though, an approach Farhadian Weinstein attacked during the campaign.
She was undeniably Wall Street’s pick for the office. David Einhorn, Bill Ackman and Jason Mudrick were among the donors who funded a primary campaign that raised more than all her opponents combined and even more than any mayoral candidate, according to public records. Farhadian Weinstein was also endorsed by a number of leading Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and former Attorney General Eric Holder.
Some think she still has her eyes on the prize.
Orlins, who ran for DA on explicitly defunding the prosecutor’s office, says it’s “a given” that Farhadian Weinstein’s team-up with Pomerantz and Dunne is aimed at setting up a challenge to Bragg in a future Democratic primary, the only race that matters in deep-blue Manhattan.
Civil rights lawyer Janos Marton, another progressive DA candidate who fell out of the race early due to lack of funds, shares that view. “It’s always been clear to me that Tali is preparing to run again for this position,” he said.
--With assistance from Greg Farrell.
(Updates with additional background.)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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