Manhattan district attorney hires senior lawyer who has probed Trump

Former U.S. President Donald Trump makes a fist while reacting to applause after speaking at the North Carolina GOP convention dinner in Greenville, North Carolina, U.S. June 5, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake/File Photo

NEW YORK, Dec 5 (Reuters) - The Manhattan district attorney has hired a former senior U.S. Department of Justice official who has investigated Donald Trump, and who may be again be called on to investigate the former U.S. president's activities.

Matthew Colangelo will serve as senior counsel to the district attorney Alvin Bragg, following two years helping oversee the Justice Department's antitrust, civil, civil rights, environmental and tax divisions, as well as some hate crimes.

He previously helped oversee New York Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into Trump's charity, the Trump Foundation, which evolved into a civil probe into the finances of Trump and his company, the Trump Organization.

James sued the company, Trump and three of Trump's children in September, alleging the fraudulent manipulation of assets to save on taxes and loans and inflate Trump's wealth. The defendants have denied wrongdoing.

In a statement, Bragg said Colangelo will focus on the district attorney's office's "most sensitive and high-profile white-collar investigations," as well as on housing and tenant protection and labor and worker protection.

Colangelo, in a separate statement ending with language that James has used, said focusing on financial crimes "will promote confidence in the legal system by making clear that the same rules apply to everyone - no matter how powerful."

The New York Times reported the hiring earlier on Monday.

Bragg's office has been conducting a criminal probe into whether the Trump Organization has been inflating assets.

The two prosecutors leading that probe resigned in February, amid reports the district attorney was reluctant to bring charges.

Bragg's office declined to comment. The district attorney has repeatedly declined to discuss the status of his probe, telling WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer on Nov. 23 that a prosecution "could be prejudiced by something I say."

Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by Nick Zieminski

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