Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr, the veteran prosecutor overseeing a criminal investigation into former U.S. President Donald Trump, announced Friday that he intends to retire rather than seek re-election, opting for a primary fight. with progressive candidates who say he is a relic and not a reformer.
Vance made the announcement in a memo to employees, ending months of speculation about his future and noting that there is likely to be an entirely new district attorney taking the Trump case forward, though Vance could still make a decision on those. positions before their term expires at the end of the year.
Vance, a Democrat, counted the rape conviction of fallen movie mogul Harvey Weinstein a year ago among his most important achievements.
But he has faced withering criticism for other high-profile cases, including the withdrawal of rape charges against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011 and the refusal to prosecute Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr on fraud allegations. in 2012.
“I never envisioned myself as a district attorney for decades like my predecessors. I never thought of this as my last job, although it is the best job and the greatest honor I will ever have, ”Vance, 66, said Friday.
His decision not to seek reelection was widely anticipated, but he refrained from making it official as the US Supreme Court weighed whether his office could obtain Trump’s tax records. The court ruled in Vance’s favor last month.
Some of the Democrats campaigning to replace Vance want to cut the office’s budget, cut staff and avoid prosecution for a broader range of low-level crimes.
Eight candidates are on the ballot for the June party primaries, an election that will likely decide Vance’s successor because Manhattan is very Democratic.
Vance ended most prosecutions for marijuana possession and subway turnstile jumps, reducing cases handled by his office by nearly 60%, to about 42,000 in 2019. He adopted diversionary programs for first-time offenders and established a unit to remedy wrongful convictions.
The supreme court ruling on Trump’s taxes was a high point for Vance’s tenure as district attorney, ending an 18-month fight with Trump’s attorneys and bolstering a grand jury investigation that has drawn attention. world.
Vance’s investigation includes examining whether Trump or his companies lied about asset values to obtain favorable loan terms and tax benefits, and secret payments paid to women on Trump’s behalf.
It’s one of the highest-profile prosecution jobs in the world, dramatized in Law and Order and Blue Bloods. The district attorney oversees a team of 500 attorneys and has a budget of about $ 125 million.
A separate forfeiture fund funded by Wall Street settlements and valued at more than $ 800 million is used for grants to criminal justice and community organizations and large initiatives, such as testing outdated rape kits.
Vance, whose father was former President Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of State, ran as an opponent of the death penalty and positioned himself as a criminal justice innovator, taking an interest in national and global efforts to prevent cyberattacks, the armed violence and the theft of works of art and antiques.
After making a campaign promise to reexamine the 1979 disappearance of six-year-old Etan Patz, a clue from 2012 led to a new suspect and ultimately a conviction.
Weinstein’s conviction in a landmark #MeToo case last year boosted Vance’s lagging legacy, giving him a career-defining victory in a term marred by concerns that he repeatedly gave powerful people special treatment.
They included circumventing an effort to press charges against Weinstein in 2015 and reaching a settlement in 2016 so gynecologist Robert Hadden could avoid prison for allegedly sexually abusing patients. Vance’s office reopened Hadden’s case amid public outcry last year, and the doctor was indicted on federal charges.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism