NEW YORK CITY — Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. announced Friday that he will not seek reelection for fourth term in office, which would have begun in January 2022.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. made the announcement in a memo to his staff, ending months of speculation about his future. His term expires at the end of the year.
“Representing the People of New York during this pivotal era for our city and our justice system has been the privilege of a lifetime,” Vance said in a statement. “When I ran for this job in 2009, I said that a District Attorney’s responsibilities should extend beyond obtaining convictions in court, and that a 21st century prosecutor’s mandate is to move our justice system and our community forward. Working in partnership with Manhattan communities, the D.A.’s Office we built together over the last decade has taken us beyond the ambitious blueprint we laid out in 2009.”
Vance, a Democrat, will continue “strengthening Manhattan communities, reforming the justice system, and combating 21st-century crimes through end of 2021,” a press releases said.
The news comes just weeks after Vance obtained long-awaited copies of Donald Trump’s tax records when the Supreme Court rejected the former president’s efforts to prevent them from being handed over.
Vance had been fighting for a year and a half for access to Trump’s tax records for a criminal grand jury investigation into his business dealings.
Vance is conducting a wide-ranging investigation that includes examining whether Trump or his businesses lied about the value of assets to gain favorable loan terms and tax benefits, and hush-money payments paid to women on Trump’s behalf.
Vance will continue to lead the Trump probe through the end of this year with his general counsel, Carey Dunne, who made appeals court arguments on the office’s behalf. He recently hired former mafia prosecutor Mark Pomerantz to assist in the probe. In a statement after the Supreme Court ruled, Vance said: “The work continues.”
With news that Vance will not seek reelection comes questions about who will lead any Trump-related prosecutions in the future.
Vance , 66, 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.
Vance’s successor will be just the fourth elected district attorney in Manhattan in the last 80 years. Frank Hogan, the namesake of the street where the office is located, served for 31 years. Robert Morgenthau was in office for 34 years, and Vance will leave after 12.
It’s one of the most high-profile prosecution jobs in the world, dramatized on TV’s “Law and Order” and “Blue Bloods.” The district attorney oversees a staff of 500 lawyers and has a budget of about $125 million.
A separate forfeiture fund bankrolled by Wall Street settlements and worth more than $800 million is used for grants to criminal justice and community organizations and big initiatives, like testing backlogged rape kits — a push celebrated by the likes of “Law & Order: SVU” star Mariska Hargitay.
Vance, whose father was President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of state, served as an assistant district attorney under Morgenthau in the 1980s. Practicing law in Seattle for 16 years, he represented Vili Fualaau, who as a preteen became involved in a sexual relationship with his sixth-grade teacher, Mary Kay Letourneau, and fathered two of her children.
Vance returned to New York in 2004 and was elected district attorney five years later. Running as a death penalty opponent, he was buoyed by endorsements from Morgenthau and former Mayor David Dinkins.
Vance positioned himself as a national criminal justice innovator, taking interest in national and global efforts to prevent cyberattacks and gun violence. He has testified before Congress about cellphone encryption and financial transparency.
After Vance made a made a campaign pledge to re-examine the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz, a 2012 tip led to a new suspect and ultimately a conviction.
Weinstein’s conviction in the landmark #MeToo case last year boosted Vance’s lagging legacy, giving him a career-defining win a decade into a tenure clouded by concerns that he repeatedly gave powerful people special treatment, such as sidestepping an effort to pursue charges against Weinstein in 2015.
In addition to Strauss-Kahn, whose charges were dropped amid concerns about inconsistencies in the account of the hotel maid who accused him, a Vance prosecutor once took the unusual step of seeking low-level sex offender status for Jeffrey Epstein, alarming the judge who said she had “never seen a prosecutor’s office do anything like this.” Vance’s office also struck a deal in 2016 so well-connected gynecologist Robert Hadden could avoid prison for allegedly sexually abusing patients.