Inside the Manhattan District Attorney’s Unraveling Donald Trump Probe

Over the last several weeks, the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into former President Donald Trump has appeared to be unraveling, with the two top prosecutors on the case resigning over the lack of charges and the DA feeling so attacked over the lack of movement that he issued a statement Thursday saying an indictment against Trump could still come.

“Investigations are not linear,” DA Alvin Bragg Jr. told CNN Thursday. “So we are following the leads in front of us, and that’s what we’re doing.”

But inside the DA’s office, the inertia and frustration over Trump potentially avoiding culpability looks worse than ever before.

Yet another prosecutor appears to have been pulled back from the case, according to knowledgeable sources who say it could be further proof of the probe’s failure. And sources now seem to think Trump dodging an indictment is inevitable.

Solomon Shinerock—a lead investigator who helped drive much of the intensive, four-year effort—is no longer as actively involved in the case, according to three people with knowledge of the matter, who all spoke on condition of anonymity.

In recent weeks, Shinerock’s pullback from the team investigating Trump has been conspicuous enough to frustrate some who have been on the prosecutors’ side—and has been noticeable enough to quietly delight lawyers working on the ex-president’s and Trump Organization’s end, sources noted.

Another person familiar with the situation described the current state of the team, which had been investigating Trump, as “gutted” and a “shell” of its former self, even beyond what’s previously been reported. The loss of momentum in this high-profile probe—which some of its former prosecutors believe already produced sufficient evidence to criminally charge Trump—has left several lawyers who’ve worked on the investigation feeling frustrated, and in some cases enraged.

Among the frustrated is Shinerock, according to a source familiar with the matter and another individual briefed on the situation. Shinerock has, predictably, refrained from commenting in public about the current state of the criminal probe, or his opinion about the apparently stalled investigation into Trump and his business empire.

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty/Handout

Shinerock is still employed at the DA’s office, but his connection to the special prosecution team now appears tenuous. The office declined to provide a comment addressing allegations that he has stepped back from his lead role on the case. Similarly, Shinerock declined to comment for this story.

For days, The Daily Beast had been pressing spokespeople in the Manhattan DA’s office for comment, sharing with them specific details of this reporting. A spokesperson for the office had repeatedly refused opportunities to go on the record to deny or challenge any of the details.

But Thursday afternoon, hours after being informed of the Beast’s final deadline, the office blasted out its written statement, attributed to Bragg, to a variety of national media outlets, insisting that “the team working on this investigation is understood of [sic] dedicated, experienced career prosecutors,” who are still “investigating thoroughly and following the facts without fear or favor.”

The Daily Beast did not receive this statement, and the DA’s office has continued to decline chances to go on the record to explain how their claims square with this reporting showing how another lead investigator on the case has had his role significantly curtailed.

Shinerock may still be part of the prosecution in some official capacity, and his name may still appear on a number of documents related to the Trump investigation. But sources were clear: Shinerock’s role has been greatly reduced.

One source told The Daily Beast that he last heard from Shinerock six weeks ago.

Another source said Shinerock has been less involved in day-to-day communications ever since the departure of the other two high-ranking prosecutors who recently quit.

Indeed, last month, Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz abruptly departed, citing their displeasure with Bragg’s refusal to sign off on an indictment of Trump on the criminal charge of falsifying business records, among other allegations.

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Handout

Dunne, a former prosecutor who made a name for himself defending Wall Street bankers, was the office’s general counsel and successfully argued before the US Supreme Court that his investigators should get Trump’s personal tax documents. Pomerantz, also a former prosecutor, left his white collar criminal defense at the high-end Paul Weiss law firm to help bolster the local prosecution office’s massive undertaking.

Shinerock was the third leg of the stool. Multiple witnesses have described him as the point man on the investigation, asking razor-sharp questions that focused on the inner workings of the Trump Organization and any involvement in criminal behavior by its executives. Shinerock was prominently present during the office’s three visits to the federal prison in Otisville, New York, where prosecutors interviewed former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen during his stay there, according to the former inmate.

Shinerock is also the lead name on the July 2021 indictment against the Trump Organization and its then-chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. That case is set for trial later this year.

Shinerock, who turns 42 next month, got his start researching war crimes at the American University’s law school. After graduation, he defended banks at New York’s oldest law firm, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, where he also provided free legal work on a team that successfully secured asylum to immigrants. He spent two years as a federal prosecutor in upstate New York, then left at the start of the Trump administration.

He joined the Manhattan DA’s office under the previous district attorney, Cy Vance Jr., where he worked in the major economic crimes bureau.

As an assistant district attorney, Shinerock played a pivotal role in the Manhattan DA’s fight for Trump’s tax returns, a legal battle that twice reached the Supreme Court.

For years, his signed declaration in federal court provided the public with the most detailed view of the office’s investigation, which started as a probe into Trump’s hush money payments to 1998 Playboy playmate-of-the-year Karen McDougal and porn star Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels.

To some, it’s entirely expected that the prosecution’s effort against the former president appears to be in disarray.

“The Manhattan DA’s office continues to lock up…poor people, people of color, Black and brown people, people with substance-abuse issues, this is an absolute pattern—meanwhile failing to hold rich and powerful people to account,” said Eliza Orlins , a public defender who ran for Manhattan DA last year. “Rikers Island is in absolute crisis; my clients are there every single day…[But] the way the office has always been run, Donald Trump’s chances were probably always good. The real scandal is that this is absolute business-as-usual behavior by that office.”

When Vance announced a year ago that he would not run for re-election, journalists quickly pointed out the potential chaos that could stem from changing leadership amid potentially the greatest prosecutorial endeavor yet for this New York County office. Those concerns seemed heightened when Bragg, a former federal prosecutor and public defender, assumed the role of DA in January.

Bragg was immediately placed on the defensive when his “Day 1 Memo” received a flood of criticism for appearing “soft on crime.” At the time, Congressman Tom Suozzi—who is now running for New York governor—and others called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to replace Bragg for allegedly neglecting his duties. Those calls have only grown louder since news last month that the Trump investigation is going sideways because of Bragg’s reluctance to file charges.

However, the office has maintained that “the investigation continues,” adding the reassuring assertion that “a team of experienced prosecutors is working every day to follow the facts and the law.”

This is their claim, even as the Manhattan prosecutors had been recently returning evidence and key documents that witnesses had provided in the case, as The Daily Beast reported last month.

Bragg has even appointed the head of the office’s investigative division, Susan Hoffinger, to run the Trump matter. But that means a top executive at the law enforcement agency presumably now has two full-time jobs—with little time to spare for indicting Trump. The grand jury convened by the DA’s office for this investigation—which is already familiar with all the evidence and would vote on an indictment if presented the question—is operating on a limited term that expires this month, according to several attorneys familiar with the investigation .

An ignominious end to this investigation would be no surprise to Nicholas Gravante, a defense attorney at the very same firm where Shinerock was once an associate. Gravante represents two other Trump Organization executives who came under the microscope, chief operating officer Matthew Calamari Sr., and his son, corporate director of security Matt Jr.

For months, Gravante asserted that his clients were part of no wrongdoing—and prosecutors would be hard-pressed to find it elsewhere.

“We have heard nothing; we have done nothing. And as I’ve been saying all along, there is no evidence that either ever acted improperly. They are model citizens,” said Gravante, the co-head of global litigation at Cadwalader.

.

Leave a Comment