Could a Secret Contract Halt This Tell-All Book on the Trump Probe?

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is warning that a tell-all book about its stalled investigation into former President Donald Trump could derail the office’s probe and leave the author of the book, a former top prosecutor there, in legal jeopardy for violating a secretive nondisclosure agreement.

The NDA, obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast, warns that “any work performed for the office” is “privileged and confidential.” That clause appears to directly conflict with a memoir that promises juicy details in what has so far been a failed effort to indict Trump.

People vs. Donald Trump: An Inside Account, written by former special assistant DA Mark Pomerantz, is due to hit bookshelves on Feb. 7—and it’s being billed as a “fascinating inside account of the attempt to prosecute former president Donald Trump.”

Pomerantz is one of two attorneys who led the team investigating Trump for financial crimes until they quit in protest last year when incoming DA Alvin Bragg hit the brakes on any indictment against Trump himself. And according to his publisher, Pomerantz aims to explain why he disagrees with that decision.

Bragg, who just scored tax fraud convictions against two Trump companies and former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, recently hinted at a decision to revive the effort to prosecute Trump directly. But that brief victory lap was interrupted with the news that Pomerantz decided to publish this book. Bragg is now bracing for what could be an embarrassing episode for the office.

If the 304-page book delivers on its core selling point, it will describe why Bragg—who inherited the Trump investigation from his predecessor, Cy Vance Jr.—didn’t pull the trigger. Pomerantz’s book is expected to detail how a team of Manhattan assistant district attorneys gathered evidence for three years to build a criminal case that Trump defrauded banks and insurers, lied on official financial forms by inflating the value of his real estate properties, dodged corporate taxes by showering his executives, and ignored campaign laws by paying hush money to keep porn star Stormy Daniels quiet about their sexual affair ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

“But that indictment never happened. This book explains why,” reads a description by the publishing house, Simon & Schuster.

The book’s selling point stings all the more, given that other prosecutors across the country appear to be nearer to indicting Trump over his menacing phone call to a Georgia elections official and his decision to hoard top secret documents at his oceanside Florida estate of Mar-a-Lago.

The nondisclosure agreement Pomerantz signed in December 2020, when he was brought onboard as an outside adviser, was severe. The three-page contract states that “counsel agrees not to disclose to anyone, without the office’s written permission” the existence of the Trump grand jury investigation, any aspect of that probe, and the mere fact that he signed a nondisclosure agreement. The strict limitations seemed tailored to his role as an outside adviser, not a full investigator who could question witnesses and reveal that a grand jury was then underway.

The contract also cautions that any damning information gathered by investigators inherently came from grand jury subpoenas, and thus “improper disclosure of such material by certain individuals is punishable as a felony.”

The Daily Beast received a redacted copy of that December 2020 employment contract, which shows the degree to which DA Vance played it safe to keep contractors quiet as prosecutors took on the largest and potentially most consequential investigation in the office’s history. This reporter filed a Freedom of Information Law request for the document in February 2022, but the office’s public records unit did not deliver copies of the agreement. The Daily Beast obtained a copy of it on Wednesday.

The Manhattan DA’s Office confirmed the redacted document was the same version Pomerantz signed.

But someone familiar with that arrangement called into question whether the contract still applied after Pomerantz was officially sworn in as a full assistant district attorney two months later in February 2021. In his second role, Pomerantz helped lead the team of investigators, interviewed witnesses, and gathered evidence.

The DA’s office has taken the position that the book does more than embarrass the 222-year-old office made famous by shows like Law & Order. In a Jan. 18 letter to Simon & Schuster, DA general counsel Leslie B. Dubeck warned of a “meaningful risk” the book could harm the effort to hold the former president accountable in court.

“The office urges Mr. Pomerantz not to take any further steps that would damage an ongoing criminal investigation,” she wrote.

The letter noted that Manhattan DA’s Office has not even had a chance “to conduct pre-publication review of the manuscript” to ensure it would not “materially prejudice ongoing criminal investigations.”

The letter also served as a legal threat to Pomerantz, warning that he was technically a “public servant” during his stint at the DA’s office.

“To the extent this book discloses information Mr. Pomerantz obtained as a public servant without this office’s approval, Mr. Pomerantz is unlawfully converting confidential government information for his personal advantage,” she wrote.

In response to that letter, Simon & Schuster put out a statement last week that said it stands behind Mark Pomerantz and his book and looks forward to “sharing this important and timely work with readers when it is published on February 7.”

Pomerantz’s role as a public servant—and the restrictions that go along with that—are listed in the version of the employment contract that the Manhattan DA’s office used when it brought him onboard.

This situation has left some New York lawyers confused. Several former Manhattan and Brooklyn prosecutors noted how it was odd for a government office to bring temporary employees on board and make them sign nondisclosure agreements, a practice more suitable in the private sector—and even then used sparingly. They noted that experienced attorneys already know not to divulge key details of an ongoing case, something that’s already covered by professional ethics rules that are enforced by the state bar.

Then again, several sources with direct knowledge of the case called into question whether Pomerantz’s book really ruins anything. They told The Daily Beast they believed the Manhattan DA’s effort to indict Trump had come to a grinding halt.

Meanwhile, Bragg is staying quiet about the pending investigation. His recent decision to hire one of the Justice Department’s top brass, Matthew Colangelo—who previously worked on fraud cases against Trump at the New York Attorney General’s Office—was an indication that the investigation may actually be back online.

But Pomerantz’s book might indeed drag Bragg into court with Trump directly—just not the way prosecutors initially intended.

Last week, New York celebrity lawyer Joe Tacopina disclosed publicly that he had been hired by the former president to prepare a potential defamation case against Pomerantz. Any lawsuit would inevitably pull Bragg and his prosecutors into civil litigation as witnesses, creating an awkward situation for an office that’s simultaneously building a criminal case against Trump.

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