The deposition of a former Manhattan prosecutor who oversaw the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s alleged hush money payment left GOP lawmakers disappointed.
On Friday, Mark Pomerantz, the former prosecutor who worked for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for about a year and who wrote a book about his experience on the investigation, appeared before the House Judiciary Committee in a closed-door deposition.
House Republicans had fought to get Pomerantz to testify, subpoenaing him and going to battle with District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who sued the committee’s chairman, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, in an attempt to stop the interview. The subpoena was issued after Bragg unsealed 34 felony charges against Trump for allegedly falsifying business records focused on a $130,000 payment to former adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election to keep quiet about their alleged affair. Trump has denied all charges.
Republican awmakers were left dissatisfied with Friday’s deposition after Pomerantz repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment, shutting down questions about the probe that led to the criminal charges against Trump.
Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican on the committee, told reporters after the hour-long meeting that the panel was “not getting many answers” and Representative Darrell Issa, another GOP committee member from California, described Pomerantz as “an obstructing witness who has no intention of answering any questions.”
It was clear from the beginning of the deposition that Pomerantz would be unlikely to cooperate. In his opening statement, he said he appeared only because he “respect[s] the rule of law.
“What I do not respect is the use of the Committee’s subpoena power to compel me to participate in an act of political theater,” Pomerantz said, according to a copy of the statement obtained by CNN. “This deposition is for show. I do not believe for a moment that I am here to assist a genuine effort to enact legislation or conduct legislative ‘oversight.’
“We are gathered here because Donald Trump’s supporters would like to use these proceedings to attempt to obstruct and undermine the criminal case pending against him, and to harass, intimidate anyone who investigates or charges him.”
A spokesperson for Jordan told Newsweek to refer to U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil’s April ruling, which found that the subpoena was “issued with a ‘valid legislative purpose’ in connection with the ‘broad’ and ‘indispensable’ congressional power to ‘conduct investigations.’”
Republicans have defended Trump amid the criminal charges, decrying Bragg’s investigation as a “political persecution.”
Pomerantz served as the special assistant district attorney from February 2021 until February 2023, when he resigned at the same time that another lead prosecutor on the investigation resigned. He cited for his departure frustration with Bragg’s decision not to pursue an indictment of Trump.
In his resignation letter, he told Bragg he believed that “Trump is guilty of numerous felony violations” and that his predecessor, former District Attorney Cyrus Vance, had even previously “concluded that the facts warranted prosecution, and he directed the team to present evidence to a grand jury and to seek an indictment of Mr. Trump and other defendants as soon as reasonably possible.”
After Bragg suspended the investigation indefinitely, Pomerantz told Bragg, “I believe that your decision not to prosecute Donald Trump now, and on the existing record, is misguided and completely contrary to the public interest.”
He went on to write a book detailing his experience in the Trump probe, titled People vs. Donald Trump. Despite Bragg’s efforts to delay the publication of the book, it was published on February 7, 2023.
The book played a key role in the legal challenge to block his deposition, with Bragg’s team arguing that House Republicans could just refer to the written record. Bragg’s lawyer asked during the April hearing: “Why do they need Mr. Pomerantz?”
Bragg’s office ultimately agreed to allow Pomerantz to testify on the condition that lawyers from his office would be present.
On Friday, Pomerantz said he would “honor” Bragg’s request to maintain the district attorney’s office’s claims of privilege and confidentiality to protect the integrity of the pending prosecution.
“Those who claim that they respect the rule of law should wait for the courts to do their work,” he said.