Mark Pomerantz, author, “People vs. Donald Trump: An Inside Account,” appears on “Meet the Press” in Washington, Feb. 12, 2023.
William B. Plowman | NBCUniversal | Getty Images
A former prosecutor declined Friday to answer questions in a deposition of House Judiciary Committee about a criminal investigation into Donald Trump in which he once played a leading role.
The Judiciary Committee, whose chairman Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a close Republican ally of Trump, is investigating whether the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office investigation and indictment of Trump was politically motivated.
Former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, in an opening statement prepared for his deposition and obtained by NBC News, called the Judiciary Committee’s request for his testimony “an act of political theater.”
“Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with the cynical histrionics that this deposition represents,” Pomerantz said.
He argued that he had the right not to answer questions if they did not relate “to a legitimate legislative task.”
“We are gathering here because supporters of Donald Trump want to use these proceedings to try to obstruct and undermine the criminal case pending against him, and to harass, intimidate and discredit anyone who investigates or indicts him. ,” Pomerantz said.
He also mentioned Trump’s recent criminal indictment in New York for allegedly falsifying business records related to a hush money payment as another reason he would not answer questions about the investigation.
“The charges against Mr. Trump must be heard and decided by a judge and a jury before politicians can second-guess their merits or the decision to bring them,” Pomerantz said.
He added that the DA’s office has ordered him to maintain the office’s claims of privilege and confidentiality to protect the integrity of the criminal case against Trump.
Pomerantz also invoked his Fifth Amendment right under the Constitution not to answer questions that could be used against him in a possible criminal case.
He noted that the DA’s office warned him that he could face criminal charges if he disclosed the grand jury material, and a lawyer for the DA said that a book he wrote about the Trump case was “exposed. [him] to criminal liability.” Pomerantz added that he does not believe he has committed any crime.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a member of the committee, told reporters later that Pomerantz refused to answer any questions during the deposition.
“I have never had a more obstructive and less cooperative witness in my more than 20 years in Congress,” Issa said, according to NBC News.
“I can tell you, with a high degree of confidence after doing this for more than 20 years, this witness and the district attorney’s office … of Manhattan have absolutely no intention of allowing any cooperation with this committee ,” he added.
Jordan later told a pool reporter that “I can’t talk about what Mr. Pomerantz may or may not have said – only committee rules.”
“But I guess in some ways, I was surprised by some of the positions he took,” Jordan said.
Asked if the committee might seek to hold Pomerantz in pursuit of the subpoena, Jordan said, “We’ll talk with the team.”
Pomerantz, as he left the committee room, said, “I don’t have anything, I don’t have anything to say.”
His attorney, Ted Wells, said Pomerantz’s opening statement “made it very clear what happened.”
The Judiciary Committee earlier this year subpoenaed Pomerantz, who at one point was a lead prosecutor in the DA’s investigation of Trump.
Pomerantz dramatically left the DA’s office in early 2022, after the new district attorney, Alvin Bragg, decided to pause the investigation.
At the time he resigned, Pomerantz said in a letter to Bragg that there was “no doubt” that Trump had committed crimes related to the appraisal of real estate assets used to obtain loans, tax break and insurance coverage. Pomerantz went on to write a book containing details about his investigative work.
Bragg revived in late 2022 an inquiry into whether Trump committed a crime by misrepresenting in business records the nature of reimbursements and other money paid to his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen , after Cohen paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 before the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen paid Daniels to keep quiet about her claim to have had sex with Trump once years ago. Trump has denied having sex with Daniels.
Trump was indicted on the business records charges in late March. He pleaded not guilty in the case, the first criminal charge brought against a sitting or former US president. The case is not expected to go to trial until next year at the earliest, when Trump will be vying for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
Bragg in April sued the Judiciary Committee in federal court in Manhattan to block the subpoena against Pomerantz, calling it an “unprecedented brazen and unconstitutional attack” on the Trump investigation.
But on April 21, the DA and the panel reached an agreement allowing Pomerantz to appear for his deposition on Friday.
In his opening statement at that deposition, Pomerantz said he had “respect for the rule of law,” and “the rule of law requires a witness to testify in response to a subpoena.”
“What I do not respect is the use of the Committee’s subpoena power to force me to participate in an act of political theater,” he said.