U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about today’s Supreme Court rulings, calling them “part of a political witch hunt and a hoax,” during a roundtable discussion with members of the Hispanic community in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, July 9, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Donald Trump’s lawyers on Monday doubled down on efforts to block Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. from obtaining his tax records and other financial documents from the president’s accountants with a grand jury subpoena.
Their new filing in Manhattan federal court objecting to that subpoena came weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision that Trump did not have an unqualified immunity while serving as president to prevent a state prosecutor from obtaining his records as part of a criminal probe.
That July 9 ruling left the door open for Trump to argue that the subpoena should be thrown out, or limited, on other grounds.
Trump, unlike every other president since the mid-1970s, has refused to release his income tax returns to the public.
In an amended lawsuit filed Monday, Trump’s lawyers said that the subpoena for Trump’s tax returns and other records from the accounting firm Mazars USA “amounts to harassment of the President in violation of his legal rights.”
Specifically, the lawyers are challenging the subpoena for being “wildly overboard,” and “not remotely confined to the grand jury investigation that began in 2018” at the direction of Vance.
The filing said that “the subpoena demands voluminous documents that relate to topics and entities far beyond the District Attorney’s limited jurisdiction under New York law.”
“The Mazars subpoena is so sweeping that it amounts to an unguided and unlawful ‘fishing expedition’ into the President’s personal financial and business dealings,” the filing said.
Trump’s lawyers also claim that the subpoena “was issued in bad faith.”
They said that Vance “knew when he issued it — and he has since admitted — that the subpoena was not designed to meet the needs of the grand jury,” but instead “was drafted by a congressional committee purportedly to investigate issues of national concern.”
Vance thus “issued a grand-jury subpoena he knew was overbroad and sought irrelevant records,” the lawyers wrote.
“That the District Attorney dubiously claims he did this for ‘efficiency’ reasons does not save the subpoena from invalidation,” they wrote.
“It confirms that he lacked a good-faith basis and that the subpoena amounts to harassment of the President.”
Vance is seeking Trump’s tax records for an investigation of whether, at the least, the president’s company improperly accounted for a hush money payment that Trump’s then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election.
Daniels claims she had sex with Trump one time more than a decade ago. Another woman who says she had an affair with Trump, Playboy model Karen McDougal, received a hush money payment in 2016 from the publisher of The National Enquirer, a Trump-friendly supermarket tabloid.
Trump denies having had sex either woman.
Cohe pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations for facilitating the payments to both Daniels and McDougal.
Records show that Cohen was reimbursed for the payment to Daniels by the Trump Organization and by Trump personally.