New York prosecutors urged a federal judge Monday to reject President Trump’s efforts to block a subpoena for eight years of his tax returns, arguing in court documents that the commander-in-chief has no “sweeping immunity” from a criminal probe despite holding the highest office in the land.
Trump’s attorney’s claimed last week the subpoena was part of an ongoing “harassment” campaign led by Democrats against the president to pressure him to provide a window into his personal finances before the 2020 presidential election.
TRUMP FILES LAWSUIT IN BID TO PROTECT PERSONAL, CORPORATE TAX RETURNS FROM RELEASE
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. filed papers in New York federal court Monday after Trump’s attorneys sued last week to stop Vance from forcing the president’s own accounting firm, Mazars USA, from releasing eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns as part of a criminal investigation into possible campaign finance violations.
Vance said Trump was asserting the "remarkable proposition" that a sitting president not only enjoys blanket immunity from criminal prosecution, but also isn't required to submit to a routine grand jury request for information about what he, his businesses or employees did before he took office.
"The law provides no such sweeping immunity," the court documents stated.
"Here, the question is not whether a state prosecutor can indict a sitting President," the papers said. "Instead, the issue is whether a third party, having been duly served with a state grand jury subpoena seeking the books and records of a number of individuals and corporate entities, including those of the President, must comply with the subpoena."
The subpoena pertained to an investigation seeking records related to hush-money payments that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen helped arrange to the porn actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal during the 2016 presidential campaign to keep either woman from speaking publicly about alleged affairs with Trump.
Trump has denied any sexual relationship with either woman, saying any payments were personal matters, not campaign expenses. Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to various federal charges, including campaign finance fraud and lying to Congress.
The president’s attorneys have called the subpoena requests by Vance, a Democrat, a "bad faith effort to harass" Trump and argued last week that a president cannot be subject to a criminal process while in office, Politico reported. They called on U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, to declare the subpoena unenforceable until Trump leaves office and argued a subpoena for a president’s tax records is unconstitutional.
Vance fired back in court papers Monday, arguing Trump’s claim “is undone by the fact that every President since Jimmy Carter has voluntarily released his tax returns before or upon taking office, which has to date never impeded a President’s ability to serve,” Politico reported.
Vance also asked Marrero to dismiss the lawsuit altogether, arguing that the state court has jurisdiction in the case. The federal judge scheduled oral arguments for Wednesday.
Also last week, a California judge temporarily blocked a new state law that would have required presidential candidates to release five years on tax returns in order to be included on the March 2020 primary ballot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.