NYC prosecutor leading Trump probe won’t seek re-election

FILE - In this May 10, 2018, file photo, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., responds to a question during a news conference in New York. Vance Jr. fought for a year and a half to get access to former President Donald Trumps tax records. Now, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, he will soon have them. But what will that mean for the Democrats investigation into Trumps business affairs? Former prosecutors say the trove of records could give investigators new tools to determine whether Trump lied to lenders or tax officials. The former president has argued for years that he broke no laws and has been unfairly targeted by Democrats for political reasons. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
FILE - In this May 10, 2018, file photo, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., responds to a question during a news conference in New York. Vance Jr. fought for a year and a half to get access to former President Donald Trumps tax records. Now, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, he will soon have them. But what will that mean for the Democrats investigation into Trumps business affairs? Former prosecutors say the trove of records could give investigators new tools to determine whether Trump lied to lenders or tax officials. The former president has argued for years that he broke no laws and has been unfairly targeted by Democrats for political reasons. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File) (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW YORK – Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., a veteran prosecutor overseeing a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump, said Friday that he won't seek reelection, opting against a primary fight with progressive candidates who say he's a relic and not a reformer.

Vance made the announcement in a memo to staffers, ending months of speculation about his future and almost certainly guaranteeing it'll be a brand-new D.A. who sees the Trump case through. His term expires at the end of the year.

Vance, a Democrat, counted Harvey Weinstein's rape conviction a year ago among his crowning achievements but faced withering criticism over other high-profile cases, including dropping rape charges against French financier Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011 and declining to prosecute Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. over fraud allegations in 2012.

“I never imagined myself as District Attorney for decades like my predecessors. I never thought of this as my last job, even though it’s the best job and biggest honor I’ll ever have. I said twelve years ago that change is fundamentally good and necessary for any institution,” Vance, 66, said in a written statement.

His decision not to seek reelection was widely anticipated, but he held off on making it official while the U.S. 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 slash the office's budget, cut staff and skip prosecutions for a wider range of low-level offenses. Eight candidates are on the ballot for the party’s June primary, an election likely to decide Vance’s successor because Manhattan is so heavily Democratic.

As D.A., Vance ended most marijuana possession and turnstile jumping prosecutions, slashing the cases handled by his office by nearly 60%, to about 42,000 in 2019. He embraced diversionary programs for first-time offenders and established a unit to remedy wrongful convictions.

The Supreme Court ruling on Trump's taxes was a capstone for Vance's tenure as district attorney, ending an 18-month fight with Trump's lawyers and bolstering a grand jury investigation that has drawn worldwide attention.