The prosecutor spearheading the criminal investigation into the Trump Organization was previously criticized for his refusal to go after notorious sex criminals Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has led the charge on a two-year investigation into the former president and his company.
Vance, currently in his third term as DA, has come under fire in the past for refusing to charge former Hollywood mogul Weinstein with a 2015 misdemeanor sex crime and attempting to soften the sex offender classification for the late billionaire financier Epstein.
In October 2017, at the height of the #MeToo movement, the New Yorker released audio of Weinstein speaking with model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez as part of a 2015 sting operation set up by the NYPD after she told authorities the day before that she had been groped by Weinstein.
Weinstein made potentially incriminating comments to Gutierrez in the recording but he was neither arrested, nor charged with a crime at the time.
Vance also faced criticism for accepting a $10,000 donation from David Boies, an attorney who has represented Weinstein since 2005, shortly after he dropped the investigation in August 2015.
Weinstein’s defense attorneys also included Vance’s former law partner Elkan Abramowitz.
Ultimately, as many as 100 women, many of whom were famous Hollywood celebrities, would come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein. Vance’s office would eventually bring charges against him, and he was sentenced in 2020 to 23 years in prison for rape in the third degree and committing a criminal sexual act in the first degree. (RELATED: Manhattan DA Won’t Charge Donald Trump Personally, Trump Lawyer Claims)
The New York State attorney general’s office also announced at the time they would conduct a review of Vance’s handling of the case.
Vance’s office came under fresh scrutiny when charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking were brought in 2019 against disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Epstein had plead guilty in Florida in 2008 to charges of procuring a person under 18 for prostitution and felony solicitation of prostitution and was thus required to register as a sex offender.
Three years after the plea deal, Vance’s office argued in 2011 on Epstein’s behalf before the New York Supreme Court.
Assistant Manhattan DA Jennifer Gaffney argued before a shocked Justice Ruth Pickholz that Epstein should be allowed to downgrade his registered sex offender status from the most-dangerous Level 3 to the lowest possible classification, Level 1 despite the assessment that he was a dangerous sex offender likely to prey on young women again.
“I have to tell you, I’m a little overwhelmed because I have never seen a prosecutor’s office do anything like this,” the judge told Gaffney at the time and ultimately rejected the request.
The New York Post also reported in 2018 that Vance believed Epstein’s lawyers, who claimed in 2011, according to records, that “there are no real victims here.”
Epstein would allegedly kill himself in prison before he could face the charges brought against him.
Vance’s office is set to unseal indictments on Thursday against Allen Weisselberg, the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization, on tax-related charges. (RELATED: ‘They Are Searching For A Crime’: Donald Trump Jr. Says New York Attorney General Is Persecuting Her Political Enemies)
Weisselberg turned himself in on Thursday to face the charges, which are the first in a two-year investigation Vance’s office has led against the former president and his company.
New – Trump Organization statement reacting to Allen Weisselberg who just surrendered to the Manhattan DA this morning — says in part he is being used as a “pawn in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former President. “ pic.twitter.com/WavgJWhy26
— John Santucci (@Santucci) July 1, 2021
The investigation has been heavily criticized by former President Donald Trump and his allies, who claim that the probe is politically motivated in nature.
“There is nothing more corrupt than an investigation that is in desperate search of a crime. But, make no mistake, that is exactly what is happening here,” Trump said.
“After hundreds of subpoenas, over 3 million pages of documents, 4 years of searching, dozens and dozens of interviews, and millions of dollars of taxpayer funds wasted, they continue to be ‘in search of a crime’ and will do anything to frighten people into making up the stories or lies that they want, but have been totally unable to get,” the former president added in a separate statement.
Vance also recently announced he would not seek a fourth term as Manhattan DA.