What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White
Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.
This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.
Monday, February 28, 2022
Sunday, February 27, 2022
Latest Russia-Ukraine war news: Russian forces enter Kharkiv as Putin intensifies invasion - The Washington Post
Russia-Ukraine live updates Russian forces enter Kharkiv, second-largest city, as Putin intensifies invasion
"MOSCOW — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday accused Russia of attacking civilian targets and warned that Russian crimes in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, towns and villages was genocide that “would lead to an international tribunal” for the perpetrators.
Speaking early Sunday, looking tired and unshaven, he said “last night was brutal” in Ukraine: “Shelling again, bombing of residential areas, civilian infrastructure again.
“Russia’s criminal actions against Ukraine have the sign of genocide,” he said. “Russia is on the path of evil,” he said, calling for Russia to be stripped of its U.N. Security Council vote.
“There is not a single — not a single — object in the country today that the occupiers would not consider a permissible target,” he said referring to Russian forces, adding that Ukraine was collecting evidence to refer to an international tribunal.
“They are fighting against everybody, they are fighting against everything alive: against kindergartens, against residential houses and even against ambulances. They use rocket artillery, rockets against entire urban areas where there is no military infrastructure and never has been.”
Speaking with visible anger he listed cities that came under indiscriminate attacks of a kind he said had not seen in Ukraine since World War II: Kyiv, Kharkiv, Vasylkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy.
Russia has denied targeting civilian infrastructure in the course of its invasion. Russia’s Defense Ministry said Sunday it launched long range cruise missiles from ships and warplanes striking “military infrastructure.”
Soon after Zelensky’s speech, Putin issued a prerecorded message of his own on the occasion of Special Operations day and congratulated the nations’ special forces for “their impeccable service” with “special gratitude to those who these days are heroically fulfilling their military duty in the course of a special operation to provide assistance to the People’s republics of Donbass.”
Zelensky addressed the citizens of neighboring Belarus as well, saying the Belarusian leader enabled Russian attacks on Ukraine from Belarusian soil.
“From your territory, Russian Federation troops are launching missiles at Ukraine. From your territory they kill our children, destroy our homes, try to blow up everything that was built over decades. And, by the way, not only by us, but also by our fathers, our grandfathers.
“You decide who you are, you decide who you will be, how you will look your children in the eyes, how you will look each other, your neighbors. And we are your neighbors. We are your neighbors, we are Ukrainians,” Zelensky said. “Be Belarus, not Russia.”
Saturday, February 26, 2022
“WASHINGTON — President Biden on Friday said he would nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, elevating a well-regarded federal appeals court judge who, if confirmed, would make history by becoming the first Black woman to serve as a justice.
Mr. Biden’s decision, made after a monthlong search, fulfilled a campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to the bench, and set into motion a confirmation battle that will play out in an evenly divided Senate. He announced the nomination at the White House, flanked by Judge Jackson and Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to be elected vice president.
“For too long our government, our courts, haven’t looked like America,” Mr. Biden said in remarks delivered two years to the day after he made his campaign promise in South Carolina. “I believe it is time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation.”
In Judge Jackson, 51, Mr. Biden selected a liberal-leaning jurist who earned a measure of Republican support when he nominated her last year to the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — an accomplishment the president, intent on curtailing the sort of partisan rancor touched off by recent nominations, took pains to emphasize.
Judge Jackson will begin meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill next week. If confirmed by the Senate, she would replace Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the senior member of the court’s three-member liberal wing, who announced last month that he would retire at the end of the current court term this summer if his successor was in place.
In his remarks on Friday, Mr. Biden pointed out that Judge Jackson, a former clerk for Justice Breyer, was a jurist whose legal approach was informed by the man she hoped to replace.
“Not only did she learn about being a judge from Justice Breyer himself,” Mr. Biden said, “she saw the great rigor through which Stephen Breyer approached his work.”
While her confirmation would not change the court’s ideological balance — conservatives appointed by Republicans would retain their 6-3 majority — it would achieve another first: all three justices appointed by Democratic presidents would be women.
“If I’m fortunate enough to be confirmed as the next associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,” Judge Jackson said in her own set of remarks, “I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the Constitution and my commitment to upholding the rule of law and the sacred principles upon which this great nation was founded, will inspire future generations of Americans.”
Judge Jackson’s nomination was praised by Democrats, but few Republicans in the Senate are expected to support her. Shortly after the White House announced Mr. Biden’s decision, conservative lawmakers and interest groupscriticized her Ivy League background and characterized her past rulings as too liberal. In a cascade of statements, some Republicans questioned Mr. Biden’s choice, but they largely avoided scorched-earth calls to oppose her nomination.
“The Senate must conduct a rigorous, exhaustive review of Judge Jackson’s nomination as befits a lifetime appointment to our highest court,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said in a statement, pointing out that he was not one of the Republicans who voted in favor of her nomination last summer.
The three Republicans who joined a 53-to-44 vote to confirm her last year — and who will be under pressure from Democrats to do so again — were Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
In recent weeks, Mr. Graham had been a vocal supporter of a judge from his own state, J. Michelle Childs, to replace Justice Breyer. He cast doubt on the idea that he would vote for Judge Jackson again: “The Harvard-Yale train to the Supreme Court continues to run unabated,” he wrote Friday on Twitter.
Judge Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Miami. She graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Justice Breyer’s alma mater. She went on to clerk for him during the 1999-2000 Supreme Court term. Four current Supreme Court justices, including two nominated by Republican presidents, went to Harvard.
In her remarks, Judge Jackson emphasized her faith and her family. Her parents were public school teachers. One of her uncles was Miami’s police chief, and another was a sex crimes detective. Her younger brother worked for the Baltimore police in undercover drug stings.
Another uncle, Thomas Brown, was sentenced to life in prison in October 1989 for possessing a large amount of cocaine with intent to distribute it. He was released in November 2017, after President Barack Obama commuted most of his remaining sentence, along with those of many others sentenced when so-called three-strikes laws sent many nonviolent drug offenders to prison for decades. Public records suggest Mr. Brown died about four months later.
“You may have read that I have one uncle who got caught up in the drug trade and received a life sentence,” Judge Jackson said. “That is true. But law enforcement also runs in my family.”
When Mr. Biden and his advisers began planning for a possible Supreme Court vacancy during the presidential transition, Judge Jackson was brought up as one of the likeliest possibilities. She was always a front-runner, people familiar with the process said, in part because she was well-known and well-liked in Washington legal circles.
During Judge Jackson’s confirmation hearing to be a Federal District Court judge in Washington in 2012, Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting delegate, recounted that Justice Breyer had two words when asked about her eligibility for the post: “Hire her.”
When Judge Jackson was sworn in for the job in 2013, Justice Breyer did the honors. “She sees things from different points of view, and she sees somebody else’s point of view and understands it,” he said at the time.
Judge Jackson was chosen from a short list that also included Leondra R. Krugerof the California Supreme Court, a former law clerk on the Supreme Court whose Yale Law pedigree is shared by four of the current justices; and Judge Childs, a Federal District Court judge in South Carolina, a state whose Black voters Mr. Biden has credited with helping him win the presidency.
White House officials have pushed back on the idea that Judge Jackson was always the favorite, and according to a person who worked with another one of the candidates, White House officials were vetting other potential nominees until at least Wednesday afternoon.
As Mr. Biden continued to deliberate this week, concern grew among White House allies that waiting until the end of his self-imposed deadline at the end of the month would deprive a historic nominee of her due, sandwiched between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Mr. Biden’s State of the Union address, scheduled for Tuesday. Democrats in Congress worried that dragging out the announcement heightened the risk that a nominee could not be confirmed before a scheduled two-week recess in early April.
By Thursday, Mr. Biden had decided. He called Judge Jackson that evening to offer her the nomination, and she accepted. Several White House officials, including Ron Klain, the chief of staff, and Dana Remus, the White House counsel, have extensive experience with the court, and helped him make his final decision.
Judge Jackson has a substantial judicial track record, having served on federal courts longer than several of the current justices had when they were appointed. In her eight months on the federal appeals court, she has yet to produce a body of opinions that express a legal philosophy, but the two majority opinions she has issued have been detailed and methodical.
The great bulk of her opinions stem from her eight years on the Federal District Court in Washington, as a trial judge, and many of them suggest that she would be about as liberal as Justice Breyer if she is confirmed.
Her most notable decisions on the district court included blocking the Trump administration’s attempts to fast-track deportations, cut short grants for teen pregnancy prevention and shield a former White House counsel from testifying before Congress about President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation.
“Presidents are not kings,” she wrote in 2019, issuing a ruling that Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel, had to obey a congressional subpoena seeking his testimony about Mr. Trump’s actions. She added, “They do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control.”
Plans to move her into position began last year, when Mr. Biden elevated her from the Federal District Court in the District of Columbia to the powerful federal appeals court, a traditional proving ground for potential justices.
Her background as a public defender made her an unusual, but to Mr. Biden, appealing, choice. When a Republican senator asked during the confirmation process last year whether she had been concerned that her work as a public defender could put violent criminals back on the streets, she argued that having such a background was an asset.
“Having lawyers who can set aside their own personal beliefs about their client’s alleged behavior or their client’s propensity to commit crimes benefits all persons in the United States,” she said in a written response, “because it incentivizes the government to investigate accusations thoroughly and to protect the rights of the accused during the criminal justice process.”
Judge Jackson has two daughters and is married to Patrick G. Jackson, a general surgeon at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. She is related by marriage to Paul D. Ryan, the former House speaker and Republican vice-presidential candidate. (Dr. Jackson is the twin brother of Mr. Ryan’s brother-in-law.) At her 2012 confirmation hearing, Mr. Ryan testified in her support.
“Our politics may differ, but my praise for Ketanji’s intellect, for her character, and for her integrity, is unequivocal,” Mr. Ryan tweeted on Friday, echoing the testimony he gave on her behalf a decade ago.
Reporting was contributed by Adam Liptak and Charlie Savage from Washington, and Patricia Mazzei from Miami.“
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Sign up for the Russia-Ukraine Crisis Briefing. Make sense of the conflict with the latest news and expert insight.
Explosions were reported in cities across Ukraine early Thursday morning after President Vladimir Putin of Russia vowed in a speech to “demilitarize” the neighboring nation, and any hope for a peaceful resolution to the crisis appeared all but snuffed out. On Wednesday, Ukraine declared a 30-day state of emergency, called up military reserves and warned its citizens to leave Russia. The European Union announced it was preparing to handle a large influx of refugees uprooted by war. Financial markets are bracing for the turmoil that a land war and sanctions could unleash across the global economy.
As the cause of all of this, Vladimir Putin is giving a master class in dangerous and destructive leadership and making it all the more important that President Biden and other nations stand resolutely together in the face of threats, feints and misinformation and remain disciplined and energized in confronting Mr. Putin. He is clearly playing a long game, and the West should continue to prepare for that and make clear, as Mr. Biden has done, that the Russian president is acting unacceptably and will pay consequences for his actions.
The scope of Mr. Putin’s professed ambition is alarming and bewildering for much of the world. As Mr. Biden asked, “Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbors?”
All this makes clear that Mr. Putin’s attack is not primarily about NATO or security. It’s all about his xenophobic, imperial and misguided notion that Ukraine was inherently an appendage of Russia, its independence a historical fluke and its rulers usurpers. His recognition of separatist states in Ukraine extended not only to enclaves controlled by pro-Russian forces but also to entire provinces, amounting to a major chunk of Ukrainian territory that includes the important port of Mariupol.
The magnitude of the Russian gambit is staggering. Whatever Mr. Putin’s ideas on how Ukraine should relate to Russia, whatever his grievances over Western encroachment on what he perceives as Russia’s sphere of influence, whatever his views on Russia’s place in Europe and the world, an unprovoked invasion of a sovereign European state is an unprovoked declaration of war on a scale, on a continent and in a century when it was thought to be no longer possible.
If nothing else, Mr. Putin should consider what this means for his people, to whom he has lied, day after day, about purported threats and slights from Ukraine and the West. There will be body bags coming home to Russia and economic dislocation and global ostracism for a nation that has suffered terribly over the past century from war and totalitarian rule.
Mr. Biden, for his part, has managed this crisis with toughness, patience, resolve and dignity, revealing regularly what American intelligence knew about Mr. Putin’s schemes. It was a novel approach to crisis management in the age of social media and probably helped harden European resolve during the ambiguous monthslong buildup of Russian forces. Mr. Putin should see that this is the resolute face of the world’s premier democracy and most powerful nation.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a meeting scheduled for this week with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. In a letter to Mr. Lavrov, Mr. Blinken said that diplomatic offramps exist “if Russia is prepared to take demonstrable steps to provide the international community with any degree of confidence it’s serious about de-escalating and finding a diplomatic solution.”
Mr. Biden and America’s NATO allies have properly declared going to war with Russia over Ukraine unthinkable. Ukraine, far weaker militarily than Russia, will have to bear the brunt of the attack alone, though, as Mr. Biden warned, the sanctions against Russia will have far-reaching economic costs for Europe and the United States, starting with an inevitable increase in the cost of energy.
Mr. Biden was right not to unleash the full arsenal of sanctions yet. As long as there is the slightest chance of deterring a full-scale invasion, he and his allies and partners must retain sticks and carrots, however few remain. That could include declaring Mr. Putin and his lieutenants war criminals, subject to arrest anywhere outside Russia. Many more banks can be added to the few that have been barred from the global financial system; trade in a broad array of technologies needed by Russian industry can be banned.
These sanctions will also hurt the West, especially Germany, and Russia may well retaliate through cyberattacks or other means that could shake global energy markets. Any such costs should be weighed against the gravity of what Russia has done.
Analysts and historians will long debate whether Mr. Putin’s grievances had bases in fact, whether the United States and its allies were too cavalier in expanding NATO, whether Russia was justified in believing that its security was compromised. There will also be heated questioning over whether Mr. Biden and other Western leaders could have done more to assuage Mr. Putin.
But no, there is absolutely no justification for a brazen invasion of a weaker neighbor. To answer Mr. Biden’s anguished question, nobody and nothing have given Mr. Putin the right to seize territory or decide the fate of neighboring nations. The consequences of his aggression will be terrible for Ukraine and painful for the West and will exact a huge cost on Russia in lives and stunted development. For all this, Mr. Putin carries the full responsibility.“
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
Jeffrey Lieberman, Columbia Psychiatry Chair, Is Suspended - The New York Times. And people doubt that racism is permanent tin America? They are dielusional.
Columbia Psychiatry Chair Suspended After Tweet About Dark-Skinned Model
"The post from Jeffrey Lieberman, which described the model as possibly a “freak of nature,” drew negative attention from medical professionals.
The chair of the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry was suspended on Wednesday, “effective immediately,” after referring to a dark-skinned model as possibly a “freak of nature” on Twitter.
“Whether a work of art or freak of nature she’s a beautiful sight to behold,” the department chair, Jeffrey A. Lieberman, tweeted on Monday in response to a photo of Nyakim Gatwech. Ms. Gatwech is an American model of South Sudanese descent; her fans refer to her as the “Queen of the Dark.”
Dr. Lieberman’s Twitter account was no longer available on Wednesday afternoon, and he did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In an email to his colleagues on Tuesday before he was suspended, he apologized for the tweet, describing it as “racist and sexist.” He added that he was “deeply ashamed” of his “prejudices and stereotypical assumptions.”
“An apology from me to the Black community, to women, and to all of you is not enough,” Dr. Lieberman wrote in the email. “I’ve hurt many, and I am beginning to understand the work ahead to make needed personal changes and over time to regain your trust.”
Dr. Lieberman, who specializes in schizophrenia and is considered one of the leading psychiatrists in the nation, was also removed from his position as psychiatrist-in-chief at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. That decision is final, according to a spokesman for Columbia University.
Department leaders called a meeting for faculty and staff on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the situation, and to announce that an interim chair would be named. Several hundred people attended the Zoom meeting, according to a person who attended, and the tone was serious and grave. The head of the hospital described the tweet as “outrageous,” the person said.
The post drew negative attention from a number of medical professionals online, many of whom were Black women.
“To not understand how racist language like that is harmful when your profession is supposed to care for the mental health of people makes you unqualified to be a psychiatrist at all, let alone the chief of the top program,” Dr. Lett said in an interview.
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The Columbia University Department of Psychiatry is one of the largest such departments in the nation, and has consistently achieved top rankings, including on U.S. News & World Report’s list of best hospitals.
Robert Klitzman, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia, described the episode as “unfortunate” and said it “really highlights how deep and pervasive some of our own unconscious biases can be.”
He noted that Dr. Lieberman had spent decades doing important research on schizophrenia and other conditions.
“I think that this incident speaks to the need to be ever vigilant in our awareness of our own unconscious biases,” Dr. Klitzman said.
The American Psychiatric Association issued an apology in January 2021 for helping to uphold structural racism in psychiatry, saying it had enabled “discriminatory and prejudicial actions” within the organization and “racist practices in psychiatric treatment.”
The organization promised to “make amends,” including by expanding quality access to psychiatric care for people of color.
White psychiatrists pathologized the behavior of Black people for hundreds of years, presenting racist beliefs as scientific fact.
Dr. Benjamin Rush, who is considered the “father” of American psychiatry, believed that Black skin was the result of a mild form of leprosy.
And many prominent psychiatrists argued after Reconstruction that Black Americans weren’t fit for independent life, calling them “primitive” or “savage.”
Dr. Lieberman’s post came in response to a tweet that referred to Ms. Gatwech as “it” and described her as the “most beautiful among the black beauties.” It erroneously stated that she was in the Guinness Book of World Records for her dark skin.
“I can’t imagine it’s even possible to know who’s the lightest or darkest person on the planet!,” Ms. Gatwech said in an Instagram post that dispelled the rumor and included a screenshot of Dr. Lieberman’s tweet.
“I love my dark skin and my nickname ‘Queen of Dark,’” she added.
Ms. Gatwech has worked to challenge beauty standards that favor lighter skin tones, and has inspired other dark-skinned women to embrace their appearances.
“Dark skin is normal, dark skin is just part of the normal variation of human existence,” Dr. Lett said. “Stigmatizing language has psychological impacts. It hurts people.”
2 Prosecutors Leading N.Y. Trump Inquiry Resign, Clouding Case’s Future
"The resignations came after the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, was said to have expressed doubts about the case, and amid a monthlong pause in the presentation of evidence to a grand jury.
The two prosecutors leading the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into former President Donald J. Trump and his business practices abruptly resigned on Wednesday amid a monthlong pause in their presentation of evidence to a grand jury, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The stunning development comes not long after the high-stakes inquiry appeared to be gaining momentum, and throws its future into serious doubt.
The prosecutors, Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz, submitted their resignations after the new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, indicated to them that he had doubts about moving forward with a case against Mr. Trump, the people said.
Mr. Pomerantz confirmed in a brief interview that he had resigned, but declined to elaborate. Mr. Dunne declined to comment.
Without Mr. Bragg’s commitment to move forward, the prosecutors late last month postponed a plan to question at least one witness before the grand jury, one of the people said. They have not questioned any witnesses in front of the grand jury for more than a month, essentially pausing their investigation into whether Mr. Trump inflated the value of his assets to obtain favorable loan terms from banks.
The precise reasons for Mr. Bragg’s pullback are unknown, and he has made few public statements about the status of the inquiry since taking office. In a statement responding to the resignations of the prosecutors, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bragg said that he was “grateful for their service” and that the investigation was ongoing.
Time is running out for this grand jury, whose term is scheduled to expire in April. Prosecutors can ask jurors to vote to extend their term, but generally avoid doing so. They also are often reluctant to impanel a new grand jury after an earlier one has heard testimony, because witnesses could make conflicting statements if asked to testify again.
And without Mr. Dunne, a high-ranking veteran of the office who has been closely involved with the inquiry for years, and Mr. Pomerantz, a leading figure in New York legal circles who was enlisted to work on it, the yearslong investigation could peter out.
The resignations, following the monthlong pause, mark a reversal after the investigation had recently intensified. Cyrus R. Vance Jr., Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, convened the grand jury in the fall, and prosecutors began questioning witnesses before his term concluded at the end of the year. (Mr. Vance did not seek re-election.)
In mid-January, reporters for The Times observed significant activity related to the investigation at the Lower Manhattan courthouse where the grand jury meets, with at least two witnesses visiting the building and staying inside for hours.
The witnesses were Mr. Trump’s longtime accountant and an expert in the real estate industry, according to people familiar with the appearances, which have not been previously reported. Mr. Dunne and Mr. Pomerantz also made regular appearances at the courthouse.
The burst of activity offered a sign that Mr. Bragg was forging ahead with the grand jury phase of the investigation, a final step before seeking charges.
But in recent weeks, that activity has ceased, and Mr. Dunne and Mr. Pomerantz have been seen only rarely.
The pause coincides with an escalation in the activity of a parallel civil inquiry by the New York state attorney general, Letitia James, whose office is examining some of the same conduct by Mr. Trump.
Ms. James, who last week received approval from a judge to question Mr. Trump and two of his adult children under oath, has filed court documents describing a number of ways in which the Trump Organization appeared to have misrepresented the value of its properties.
She concluded that the company had engaged in “fraudulent or misleading” practices, and although she lacks the authority to criminally charge Mr. Trump, she could sue him.
Mr. Bragg’s office must meet a higher bar to bring a criminal case and has encountered a number of challenges in pursuing Mr. Trump, including its inability thus far to persuade any Trump Organization executives to cooperate.
Mr. Trump has disputed the notion that he inflated his property values or defrauded his lenders, and has accused Mr. Bragg and Ms. James, both Democrats who are Black, of being politically motivated and “racists.”
“I’ve been representing Donald Trump for over a year in this case and I haven’t found any evidence that could lead to a prosecution against him, or any crimes,” said a lawyer for Mr. Trump, Ronald P. Fischetti. “I hope Mr. Bragg will now look again at all the evidence in the case and make a statement that he is discontinuing all investigation of Donald Trump.”
As Mr. Bragg’s grand jury presentation has come to a halt, another serious criminal inquiry into the former president has been gaining steam. In recent weeks, a district attorney in Atlanta asked a judge to convene a grand jury for an investigation into Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia.
Another criminal investigation, in New York’s Westchester County, is examining Mr. Trump’s financial dealings at one of his company’s golf courses.
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The Manhattan investigation, which proceeded in fits and starts for years, was the most developed of the three criminal inquiries into Mr. Trump. It resulted in the indictments last summer of The Trump Organization and its long-serving chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, on separate tax-related charges.
After announcing those charges, the prosecutors zeroed in on a subject that has spurred much debate over the years: Mr. Trump’s net worth.
They have questioned whether Mr. Trump defrauded his lenders — sophisticated financial institutions like Deutsche Bank — by routinely inflating the value of his assets, The New York Times has previously reported.
In particular, the prosecutors have focused on annual financial statements Mr. Trump provided the lenders, scrutinizing whether he overvalued his various hotels, golf clubs and other properties to score the best possible loan terms.
Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, compiled the statements based on information provided by the Trump Organization, leading the prosecutors to question whether the company had given its accountants bogus data.
Early this month, Mazars notified the Trump Organization that it would no longer serve as its accountant and that it could no longer stand behind a decade of Mr. Trump’s financial statements.
Mazars said it had not, “as a whole,” found material discrepancies between the information the Trump Organization provided and the true value of Mr. Trump’s assets.
But given what it called “the totality of circumstances” — including its internal investigation and Ms. James’s court papers — Mazars instructed the company to notify anyone who had received the statements that they “should not be relied upon.”
Even with Mazar’s retraction, a criminal case would likely be difficult to prove. The documents, known as statements of financial condition, contain a number of disclaimers, including acknowledgments that Mr. Trump’s accountants had neither audited nor authenticated his claims.
And the prosecutors have thus far been unable to convince Mr. Trump’s long-serving chief financial officer to cooperate with the investigation, depriving them of the type of insider witness whose testimony can be crucial to complicated white collar criminal cases.
Understand the New York A.G.’s Trump Inquiry
An empire under scrutiny. The New York State attorney general is currently conducting a civil investigation into former president Donald Trump’s business practices. Here’s what to know:
The origins of the inquiry. The investigation started after Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, testified to Congress that Mr. Trump and his employees had manipulated his net worth to suit his interests.
The potential impact. Because the investigation is civil, the attorney general cannot file criminal charges and would have to sue Mr. Trump. Ms. James could seek financial penalties and try to shut down certain aspects of Mr. Trump’s business.
Mr. Trump’s lawsuit. In December Mr. Trump sued Letitia James, the New York attorney general, seeking to halt the inquiry. The suit argues that the attorney general’s involvement in the inquiry is politically motivated.
Mr. Trump’s lenders might also not make for sympathetic victims with a jury. The lenders, which made millions of dollars in interest from Mr. Trump, conducted their own assessments of his assets.
Despite the challenges, the prosecutors had been moving forward.
In the fall, Mr. Vance convened what is known as a special grand jury, a panel of 23 Manhattan residents, chosen at random, to hear complex cases like the one involving Mr. Trump. Over the course of months, the jurors were expected to meet in secret to hear testimony from witnesses and examine other evidence put forward by the prosecutors.
Special grand juries last six months, and at the end of these presentations, prosecutors typically direct the jurors to vote on whether there is “reasonable cause” to believe that the person could be guilty. While it is not a foregone conclusion that a grand jury will indict the target of an investigation, such panels routinely vote to bring the charges that prosecutors seek.
Late last year, the grand jury heard testimony from Mr. Trump’s accountant at Mazars about Mr. Trump’s annual financial statements, The Times previously reported. Soon after, the prosecutors questioned two editors for Forbes Magazine, which has estimated Mr. Trump’s net worth over the years for its billionaires list.
The accountant testified again last month, people with knowledge of the appearance said.
A day later, the prosecutors questioned a real estate expert who specializes in property valuation, according to people with knowledge of that appearance. The witness works for the consulting firm FTI, which the district attorney’s office hired in 2020 to help analyze Mr. Trump’s financial documents.
In the days after this testimony, the prosecutors lined up at least one other witness to appear before the grand jury. But late last month, they postponed the testimony, according to one of the people with knowledge of the matter.
If Mr. Bragg ultimately closes the investigation, he could face political fallout in Manhattan, where Mr. Trump is generally loathed. And the district attorney has already had a rocky start to his tenure, after a memo he released outlining his policies for the office was met with furious pushback from local officials, small businesses and the public.
Mr. Bragg — who was sworn in on Jan. 1 — is a former federal prosecutor and veteran of the New York State attorney general’s office, where he oversaw civil litigation against Mr. Trump and his administration under Ms. James’s predecessor.
The district attorney’s criminal investigation into Mr. Trump began in the summer of 2018 under Mr. Vance, who initially looked into the Trump Organization’s role in paying hush money to a pornographic actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.
The inquiry grew out of a federal case against Mr. Trump’s former fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who pleaded guilty to arranging the hush money and said he did so at the direction of Mr. Trump.
The focus of the investigation shifted after Mr. Vance, in 2019, subpoenaed Mazars for copies of Mr. Trump’s tax returns. Mr. Trump sued to block the subpoena, sparking a bitter 18-month legal battle that saw the former president take the case to the United States Supreme Court, where he lost twice.
Mr. Dunne, who served as Mr. Vance’s general counsel and stayed on to help Mr. Bragg with the Trump investigation, argued the case before the Supreme Court. And around the time that the prosecutors received Mr. Trump’s tax documents, Mr. Vance recruited Mr. Pomerantz, a prominent former prosecutor and defense lawyer, to help lead the investigation.
Around this time, the prosecutors turned their attention to Mr. Weisselberg, pressuring him to cooperate. But he refused, and in July, they announced an indictment against him and the Trump Organization.
The case accused Mr. Weisselberg and the company of a 15-year scheme to pay for luxury perks for certain executives, like free apartments and leased Mercedes-Benzes, off the books.
Mr. Weisselberg pleaded not guilty and his lawyers filed court papers this weekseeking to dismiss the charges. A judge has tentatively scheduled a trial for late summer.
Ben Protess is an investigative reporter covering the federal government, law enforcement and various criminal investigations into former President Trump and his allies. @benprotess
Jonah E. Bromwich covers criminal justice in New York, with a focus on the Manhattan district attorney's office, state criminal courts in Manhattan and New York City's jails.
During his time on Metro, Mr. Bromwich has covered investigations into former president Donald J. Trump and his family business, the fall of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the crisis at the jail complex on Rikers Island, among other topics. @jonesieman"