The decision to not extend the jury’s term is not surprising because prosecutors already had pulled back from presenting evidence, but the development does indicate that over the past few months, the investigation has not escalated to the point that Bragg’s calculus has changed.
Grand juries are paneled in New York all the time, and any of them could hear evidence.
“There’s no magic in any previously reported schedule,” Bragg told CNN this month. “This investigation is going to be dictated by the facts we unearth.”
“We’ve got a strong dedicated team of career prosecutors working day in and day out and following up on new evidence and going where the facts take us,” Bragg added. He declined to comment at the time about the grand jury’s term, saying it “would not be appropriate.”
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office referred to Braggs’ previous statements and declined further comment.
In New York state, unlike in federal courts, prosecutors are required to bring witnesses before the grand jury and cannot rely upon detective or agents to summarize witness testimony.
Prosecutors generally stop presenting evidence to a grand jury if they’re not intending to immediately seek an indictment because it is time-consuming and could expose a future case to scrutiny. Witnesses that appear before multiple grand juries are at risk of giving inconsistent statements, and prosecutors can be accused of jury shopping.
Late last year, under the authorization of the previous Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., prosecutors began presenting evidence to the grand jury over the accuracy of Trump’s financial statements, which were provided to lenders, insurers and others.
Some career prosecutors left the team out of concern they were moving too quickly without clear evidence to support possible charges, people familiar with the investigation told CNN.
Then, by late February of this year, two top prosecutors, Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne, pressed Bragg, who was sworn into office six weeks earlier, to authorize them to move forward and seek an indictment from the grand jury. Bragg did not, and Pomerantz and Dunne resigned. Bragg has told CNN he believed there are still other investigative avenues to pursue.
In his resignation letter, Pomerantz said he believed the office had “sufficient evidence to establish Mr. Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. … I also do not believe that suspending the investigation pending future developments will lead to a stronger case or dispel your reluctance to bring charges.”
Pomerantz added: “I and others believe that your decision not to authorize prosecution now will doom any future prospects that Mr. Trump will be prosecuted for the criminal conduct we have been investigating.”
In recent weeks, another key prosecutor, Solomon Shinerock, left the investigative team, people familiar with the matter say, but he remains on the prosecution team for the alleged tax fraud indictment heading to trial in the fall against Allen Weisselberg and the Trump Organization. Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, and the company have pleaded not guilty.
Bragg, according to people familiar with the investigation, was skeptical about prosecutors’ ability to prove Trump’s intent. There were also concerns among some prosecutors about the strength of their evidence without a cooperating witness and the lack of a victim to shown harm, and some were reluctant to rely on Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, the people said.
Bragg has since assigned one of his top executives, Susan Hoffinger, an experienced prosecutor and defense lawyer, to oversee the investigation. Other prosecutors were added to the investigation, and witnesses continue to be interviewed. Prosecutors also recently sent follow-up requests to several entities, including the Trump Organization, people familiar with the matter said.
This story has been updated with additional reporting and background information.