DA responds to Trump’s efforts to block release of tax returns
New York prosecutors on Monday asked a judge to throw out President Donald Trump’s effort to block a subpoena for his personal and business tax returns saying “the law provides no such sweeping immunity” for a sitting president.
Trump sued the New York County District Attorney’s office last week after the President’s long time accounting firm Mazars USA was served with a grand jury subpoena seeking tax returns and related documents going back to 2011. The prosecutors, who are led by Cyrus Vance, are investigating the hush money payments made to two women who alleged affairs with the President. Prosecutors are looking at whether the Trump Organization had violated any New York state laws concerning its reimbursement to Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and “fixer.”
In the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in New York, Trump argued that a criminal investigation of a sitting president was “unconstitutional” and asked the judge to suspend the subpoena until Trump was no longer in office.
New York prosecutors responded Monday by filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and deny Trump’s request for a temporary restraining order. They cited multiple state and federal investigations that involved the President, including special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into election interference and obstruction of justice and the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York’s investigation of the hush money payments. They also argued filing the lawsuit in federal court — not state court — was not the proper venue.
“The Plaintiff’s position is that none of this conduct, unrelated to the office of the President, can be investigated while the President remains in office,” the New York prosecutors wrote. “The law provides no such sweeping immunity.”
They added: “Under long-settled precedent, the Grand Jury is entitled to the evidence it seeks; must be allowed to pursue its investigation free from interference and litigious delay; and the People of the State of New York have a right to inquire whether their laws have been violated by New York entities and individuals, and to remove any doubt if they have not.”
In his report, Mueller noted the importance of conducting his investigation to preserve witness testimony and evidence even though he followed the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel’s guidance that a sitting president could not be indicted.
A portion of the motion that relates to the matters under investigation is redacted. The district attorney’s office subpoenaed the Trump Organization last month and to date Trump’s attorneys have turned over 3,376 pages of documents, according to the district attorney’s office. Mazars did not object to the subpoena, the district attorney said.
Vance’s office noted that Trump did not object to the subpoenas or grand jury testimony involved in the federal investigations claiming instead that Trump is “seeking to invent and enforce a new presidential “tax return privilege,” on the theory that disclosing information in a tax return will necessarily reveal information that will somehow impede the functioning of a President, sufficiently to meet the test of irreparable harm.”
Trump has sued House Democrats to block their efforts to obtain his financial records. Two district court judges have denied Trump’s requests and those cases are on appeal.
Judge Victor Marrero scheduled oral arguments on the request for a temporary restraining order for Wednesday.
This story has been updated.