Who is Cyrus Vance Jr? Trump calls Manhattan DA 'headhunter' as Supreme Court allows turnover of tax records

The Manhattan DA is up for re-election this year but is unlikely to seek a fourth term


                            Who is Cyrus Vance Jr? Trump calls Manhattan DA 'headhunter' as Supreme Court allows turnover of tax records
Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr has been allowed by SC to look into 8 years of Donald Trump's tax returns (Getty Images)

In a big win for Democrats, the Supreme Court ruled that Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr could access eight years of former President Donald Trump's tax returns. At the heart of the effort is Vance Jr, a progressive Democrat, whom Trump called a "headhunter" in a recent statement. The Manhattan DA is up for re-election this year but is unlikely to seek a fourth term. Despite his massive win and his pivotal role in the Harvey Weinstein case, Vance Jr faces an uphill battle from more progressive challengers and his office record on other cases.

If he does choose not to run, Vance Jr leaves behind a legacy that any successor will struggle to fill. It also leaves his successor in charge of the controversial Trump case, which the former president has been fighting hard against. The long-delayed ruling put paid to Trump's fight to block Vance's subpoena seeking eight years of his personal and corporate financial records from before and during his time in the White House for an ongoing criminal investigation.

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Who Is Cyrus Vance Jr?

Vance Jr is the son of Cyrus Vance, former Secretary of State under president Jimmy Carter and was born on June 14, 1954. Growing up in New York City, he attended the Buckley School and the Groton School. He then went on to graduate from Yale, followed by a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center in 1982. In 1984, he married photographer Peggy McDonnell. The couple has two children together. He is also admitted to the bar in New York state, Washington State and Washington DC. His other notable achievements include being a Fellow at the American College of Trial Lawyers and working as an adjunct professor at Seattle University School of Law. 

Vance Jr is known for his public service, where he has been actively involved in sentencing reform policy, conviction integrity, and prosecutorial oversight. As a result of his work, Vance Jr served as the Special Assistant Attorney General representing the state of Washington and on the Sentencing Commissions of New York and Washington state. 

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announces the take down of a crime ring run on the dark web on April 16, 2019 in New York City. (Getty Images)

Legal and political career

After Georgetown, Vance Jr went on to join the Manhattan DA office as an Assistant District Attorney. Within a few years, he made a name for himself for prosecuting cases of murder, organized crime, career criminals, political corruption, international art fraud and white-collar crime. Today though, he is best known for his role in the cases against Weinstein and Trump. Five years after he was criticized when his office declined to place charges against Weinstein over an assault against Amber Battilana Gutierrez, in February 2020 after the jury’s unanimous statement that Weinstein was guilty of sexual assault and rape, Vance Jr found some solace. 

On the other hand, Trump is facing multiple court cases all over the country, but none as advanced as the Manhattan case. Vance Jr is investigating the reported payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. For Vance Jr it could prove to be his final act as Manhattan DA.

Vance Jr was first elected to his role in 2009 with 91 percent of votes cast. In his first few months, he established new units such as the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, Hate Crimes Unit, Public Integrity Unit and Vehicular Crimes Unit. It seems like his time as Manhattan DA may finally be up. With eight contenders for his role, it is very unlikely Vance Jr will run for a fourth term.

District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. testifies during a hearing before Senate Judiciary Committee December 10, 2019. (Getty Images)

Challenges in 2021

Despite his big wins, Vance Jr has increasingly come under scrutiny. He initially refused to prosecute Weinstein in 2015 and halted an investigation into Trump's children. That has left him facing criticism from some left-leaning voters, especially after Pro Publica reported that Vance Jr received a campaign contribution of $32,000 by Trump's then-lawyer Marc Kasowitz. He has also faced criticism from Democrats on his anti-encryption stance. 

Vance Jr also faces massive pushback from conservatives for his liberal policies towards police brutality and racism. That comes after his office announced it would prosecute Amy Cooper, who called the police on a black bird watcher in Central Park. He has also directed significant resources to investigate police brutality over the George Floyd protests. 

As a result, he is currently stuck between a rock and a hard place. Vance Jr is now becoming unpopular on both sides of the aisle, which could be a key reason for his disinterest in running for a fourth term. So far, he has only raised $29,000 and yet to make a public comment on whether or not he is seeking reelection. If he doesn't, it does give Trump some breathing space. 

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