Cyrus Vance Jr. — the former Manhattan district attorney who started the left’s legal battle against former President Donald Trump in earnest — wasn’t always a Trump-seeking weapon.
And, now that Trump is seeking the GOP nomination for president a third time, the former president wants social media users to know that.
In two separate posts on his social media platform Truth Social, Trump published a letter and an email from the former Manhattan DA — one in which Vance congratulated Trump for his victory in 2016 and the other in the wake of GOP Rep. Steve Scalise’s shooting in June of 2017.
The letter, dated Nov. 9, 2016, congratulated Trump “on your extraordinary victory.”
“After so expertly taking the pulse of the nation, you now stand in a position to move us forward,” stated Vance’s letter, which was addressed to the Trump Organization and written under the DA’s office letterhead.
“Realizing how important law enforcement and criminal justice issues are to you, please know that you or your staff can always call upon me,” it continued. “There are common sense ideas that can serve us all well, no matter what the country’s political differences may be.
“My best to you and Melania, and to your beautiful family,” Vance’s letter concluded.
Now, one could easily dismiss this as a pro forma letter to the most famous New Yorker in the world at that time, a status that is saying something. (As an official resident of Florida in his post-presidency, Trump is now the world’s most famous ex-New Yorker.)
However, Vance certainly wasn’t obligated to send Trump’s White House assistant, Rhona Graff, an email both wishing Trump a happy birthday (a date shared by Vance, though he’s eight years younger) and condemning the shooting of Scalise as the Republican team practiced for the annual congressional baseball game on June 14, 2017.
“Rhona: I was thinking of the President this morning, particularly as I share June 14th as a birthday with him, but also in connection with the terrible events that took place in Alexandria [Virginia],” Vance wrote in the email posted to Truth Social by Trump.
“Please convey to him my birthday greetings, but most importantly, wishes for strength leading the country in these difficult times.”
(It’s worth noting that Vance Jr. was and is no neophyte when it comes to playing politics in the big leagues. Besides his own prosecution career, his father, the late Cyrus Vance Sr., was secretary of state in President Jimmy Carter’s administration until his resignation in protest of the botched hostage rescue in Iran. When Vance Jr. was writing slavering letters to the commander in chief, he had a reason for it.)
Vance Jr. declined to run for another term as Manhattan DA in 2021 after spending 12 years in the gig. His successor, Alvin Bragg, became the bane of Manhattanites for his countenance of violent crime but the toast of the anti-Trump contingent in the establishment media (alas, I repeat myself) by becoming the first prosecutor to file charges against a former president earlier this year.
In an interview in April with NPR‘s Scott Detrow after Bragg’s indictment — based on supposed “hush money” payments to former porn star Stormy Daniels and two other women — came down, Vance was cautious about spiking the football too early.
“Well, I think the indictment of the president’s – former president himself is an extraordinary event. There’s no getting around that. And it’s an important event, legally and culturally,” Vance said.
“So that’s — my first reaction is we — is that everybody has reason to be very focused on the sort of severity of where we are right now and the divisions within our country. That said, I also agree with you, Scott, that we need to all hold our fire.
“The only person who really knows why he made the decision is Alvin Bragg, and the facts that will support or not support his decision will be laid out when the indictment is dismissed,” he continued. “Until then, I think we all can have our political viewpoints, but we need to let the process play out.”
Still, toward the end of his own days at the helm of the Manhattan DA’s office, Vance made it clear that Trump was his white whale.
A New York Times report on Vance leaving office, published Dec. 30, 2021, carried the summary headline: “Cyrus R. Vance Jr.’s third and final term as Manhattan district attorney is ending, but his investigation into former President Donald J. Trump goes on.”
Vance is a famously low-key prosecutor, but he has been waging a ferocious battle. His subpoena required Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars U.S.A., to turn over millions of pages of personal and corporate records, dating from 2011 to 2019, that Trump had withheld from prosecutors and the public. Before Trump was elected, in 2016, he promised to release his tax records, as every other modern President has done, and he repeated that promise after taking office. Instead, he went to extraordinary lengths to hide the documents. The subpoena will finally give legal authorities a clear look at the former President’s opaque business empire, helping them to determine whether he committed any financial crimes. After Vance’s victory at the Supreme Court, he released a typically buttoned-up statement: “The work continues.” …
The legal clash between Vance and Trump has already tested the limits of Presidential power. In 2019, Trump’s lawyers argued that Presidents were immune from criminal investigation and prosecution. Trump’s appellate counsel, William Consovoy, asserted that Trump couldn’t be prosecuted even if he fulfilled one of his most notorious campaign boasts: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Vance and his team rejected this imperial claim, insisting that nobody is above the law. Trump, in his effort to shield his financial records, took the fight all the way to the Supreme Court—and then back again, after the case was remanded—but the D.A.’s office won every round.
Mayer wrote that the investigation “may seem picayune in comparison with the outrageous offenses to democratic norms that Trump committed as President.” It turned out that whatever inconsistencies Vance was looking for in Trump’s tax returns were also pretty picayune, however, to the point where he passed a criminal investigation on to his successor Bragg, who subsequently dropped it before going after Trump on the Stormy Daniels front instead.
Turns out Vance had as much luck with his white whale as Captain Ahab did.
However, it’s worth noting that, just a few years before all this started, Vance was effusively praising the former president in private. As he left the office, he told The New York Times that he’d “been criticized a lot” for not charging Trump.
“Do I like it? No. But do I have to put it all in perspective? Yeah. And if you don’t put it in perspective, you’ll shoot yourself,” he told the Times. “Because people are passionate and they’re angry, and people have only gotten more divided and more angry in the last five or six years than they ever were before.”
What’s truly remarkable is not those words, but rather who they come from: A member of the elite who kept on praising Donald Trump in private while railing against him in public to satisfy the establishment media and the Democratic base.
Funny how that works.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.