Prosecutors Leading Trump Fraud Investigation in NY Resign – The New York Times

But given what it called “the totality of circumstances” — including its internal investigation and Ms. James’s court papers — Mazars instructed the company to notify anyone who had received the statements that they “should not be relied upon.”

Understand the New York A.G.’s Trump Inquiry

Card 1 of 6

An empire under scrutiny. The New York State attorney general is currently conducting a civil investigation into former president Donald Trump’s business practices. Here’s what to know:

An empire under scrutiny. The New York State attorney general is currently conducting a civil investigation into former president Donald Trump’s business practices. Here’s what to know:

The origins of the inquiry. The investigation started after Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, testified to Congress that Mr. Trump and his employees had manipulated his net worth to suit his interests.

The findings. Ms. James detailed in a recent filing what she said was a pattern by the Trump Organization to inflate the value of the company’s properties in documents filed with lenders, insurers and the Internal Revenue Service.

The potential impact. Because the investigation is civil, the attorney general cannot file criminal charges and would have to sue Mr. Trump. Ms. James could seek financial penalties and try to shut down certain aspects of Mr. Trump’s business.

Mr. Trump’s lawsuit. In December Mr. Trump sued Letitia James, the New York attorney general, seeking to halt the inquiry. The suit argues that the attorney general’s involvement in the inquiry is politically motivated.

Pushing back. Lawyers for the Trump family had sought to prevent Ms. James from obtaining documents as part of the inquiry and interviewing Mr. Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump under oath. But a State Supreme Court judge in Manhattan has rejected the efforts.

Even with the retraction from Mazars, a criminal case would likely be difficult to prove. The documents, known as statements of financial condition, contain a number of disclaimers, including acknowledgments that Mr. Trump’s accountants had neither audited nor authenticated his claims.

And the prosecutors would have to show that Mr. Trump’s penchant for hyperbole crossed the line into criminality, a tall order when it comes to something as subjective as property values. A case like this might hinge on the testimony of a Trump insider, but the prosecutors have not persuaded Mr. Weisselberg to cooperate with the investigation, depriving them of the type of insider witness whose testimony can be crucial to complicated white-collar criminal trials.

Another challenge is that Mr. Trump’s lenders might not appear to a jury to be sympathetic victims. The lenders, which made millions of dollars in interest from Mr. Trump, conducted their own assessments of his assets.

Still, the prosecutors had been moving forward.

In the fall, Mr. Vance convened what is known as a special grand jury, a panel of 23 Manhattan residents, chosen at random, to hear complex cases like the one involving Mr. Trump. Over the course of months, the jurors were expected to meet to hear testimony from witnesses and examine other evidence put forward by the prosecutors.

Special grand juries last six months, and at the end of these presentations, prosecutors typically direct the jurors to vote on whether there is “reasonable cause” to believe that the person could be guilty. While it is not a foregone conclusion that a grand jury will indict the target of an investigation, such panels routinely vote to bring the charges that prosecutors seek.

Late last year, the grand jury heard testimony from Mr. Trump’s accountant at Mazars about Mr. Trump’s annual financial statements, The Times previously reported. Soon after, the prosecutors questioned two editors for Forbes Magazine, which has estimated Mr. Trump’s net worth over the years for its billionaires list.