Mark Pomeranz, author, “The People vs. Donald Trump: An Inside Account,” appears on “Meet the Press” in Washington, D.C., February 12, 2023.
William B. Plowman | NBCUniversal | Getty Images
A former prosecutor declined to answer questions Friday in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee about a criminal investigation into Donald Trump in which he once played a leading role.
The Judiciary Committee, whose chairman is Jim Jordan of Ohio, a close Republican ally of Trump, is investigating whether the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation and indictment of Trump was politically motivated.
Former prosecutor Mark Pomeranz, in an opening statement prepared for his testimony and obtained by NBC News, called the Judiciary Committee’s request for his testimony “an act of political theater.”
“Thankfully, I don’t have to cooperate with the cynical hysteria that this testimony represents,” Pomeranz said.
He argued that he had the right not to answer questions if they did not relate to a “legitimate legislative function.”
“We are gathered here because supporters of Donald Trump would like to use this proceeding to try to obstruct and undermine the criminal case against him and to harass, intimidate and discredit anyone who investigates or accuses him,” Pomeranz said.
He also cited the recent impeachment of Trump in New York for allegedly falsifying business records related to a secret payment of money, another reason he would not answer questions about the investigation.
“The charges against Mr. Trump must be heard and decided by a judge and jury before politicians weigh their merits or decide whether to prosecute them,” Pomeranz said.
He added that the DA’s office had instructed him to keep the office’s claims of privacy and confidentiality to protect the integrity of the criminal case against Trump.
Pomeranz also cited 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 had warned him that criminal charges could be brought if he disclosed material from the grand jury, and that a prosecutor’s lawyer had said that the book he wrote about the Trump case was “revealed [him] to criminal liability.” Pomeranz added that he does not believe he committed any crime.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a committee member, told reporters later that Pomerantz declined to answer any questions at the deposition.
“I have never had a more obstructive and less helpful witness in my 20-plus years in Congress,” Issa said, according to NBC News.
“I can tell you with great confidence, having done this for over 20 years, this witness and the Manhattan district attorney’s office … have absolutely no intention of allowing any cooperation with this commission,” he added.
Jordan later told a reporter at the pool that “I can’t speak to what Mr. Pomeranz may or may not have said — just committee rules.”
“But I guess in some ways I was surprised by some of the positions he took,” Jordan said.
Asked if it was possible the committee might want to hold Pomeranz in contempt of court, Jordan said, “We’ll talk to the team.”
Pomeranz, as he left the committee room, said, “I have nothing, anything to say.”
His attorney, Ted Wells, said Pomeranz’s opening statement “was very clear about what happened.”
The Judiciary Committee earlier this year subpoenaed Pomeranz, who at one point was the lead prosecutor in the DA’s investigation into Trump.
Pomeranz dramatically left the DA’s office in early 2022 after new District Attorney Alvin Bragg decided to shut down the investigation.
At the time he resigned, Pomeranz said in a letter to Bragg that there was “no doubt” that Trump had committed crimes related to the valuation of real estate used to obtain loans, tax breaks and insurance coverage. Pomeranz went on to write a book detailing his work on the investigation.
Bragg in late 2022 reopened an investigation into whether Trump committed a crime by misrepresenting in business records the nature of refunds and other money paid to his former lawyer and middleman Michael Cohen after Cohen paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 just before the 2016 presidential election.
Cohen paid Daniels to keep her quiet about her claim that she had sex with Trump years ago. Trump denies having sex with Daniels.
Trump was indicted on business records charges in late March. He has pleaded not guilty in the case, the first criminal indictment ever brought against a sitting or former US president. The case is not expected to go to trial until next year, when Trump will be vying for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
Bragg in April sued the Judiciary Committee in Manhattan federal court to block the subpoena for Pomeranz, calling it an “unprecedentedly brazen and unconstitutional attack” on the Trump investigation.
But on April 21, prosecutors and the panel reached an agreement that allowed Pomeranz to testify Friday.
In his opening statement at that deposition, Pomeranz said he “respects the rule of law” and “the rule of law requires that a witness appear to testify in response to a subpoena.”
“What I do not respect is the use of the commission’s subpoena power to compel me to participate in an act of political theater,” he said.