Trump sues to block NY prosecutors’ subpoena for his tax returns

President Trump on Thursday filed a lawsuit in federal court in New York over the Manhattan district attorney’s subpoena to his accounting firm for his tax returns and other records.

“In response to the subpoenas issued by the New York County District Attorney, we have filed a lawsuit this morning in Federal Court on behalf of the President in order to address the significant constitutional issues at stake in this case,” Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement.

The lawsuit, which names Trump’s accounting firm Mazars USA and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance (D) as defendants, comes after multiple news outlets reported on Monday that the Manhattan district attorney’s office late last month subpoenaed eight years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns from Mazars.{mosads}

The district attorney’s office is investigating payments made to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said that she received payments in exchange for keeping quiet during the 2016 election about an affair she allegedly had with Trump.

According to the complaint, obtained by CNN, Vance’s office issued a subpoena to the Trump Organization on Aug. 1 for documents related to payments benefiting Daniels as well as Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who also alleges that she had an affair with Trump.

That subpoena also asked for documents relating to Michael Cohen’s work for Trump and his businesses. Cohen is Trump’s former personal lawyer and is currently serving a prison sentence after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations related to the payments.

Trump’s lawyers promptly started a dialogue with the district attorney’s office and started producing documents requested by the subpoena. But Trump’s attorneys and the district attorney’s office disagreed over whether the subpoena covered Trump’s tax returns, according to the complaint. The district attorney’s office then sent a subpoena to Mazars for Trump’s tax returns and other financial records on Aug. 29.

Trump’s lawyers alleged in the complaint that they reached out to the district attorney’s office to “engage in good-faith negotiations” concerning the Mazars subpoena, but the office refused to narrow the subpoena’s scope or stay enforcement of it while its validity is litigated.

“The subpoena is a bad faith effort to harass the President by obtaining and exposing his confidential financial information, not a legitimate attempt to enforce New York law,” Trump’s lawyers said in their complaint. 

Trump’s lawyers argue that the subpoena to Mazars violates the Constitution because it’s an attempt to criminally investigate and prosecute the president and presidents can’t be criminally investigated and prosecuted while in office. Trump’s lawyers are asking a judge for a permanent injunction staying the subpoena while Trump is president, as well as a temporary injunction barring Mazars from complying with the subpoena until its validity has been adjudicated. 

A hearing on Trump’s motion for a temporary restraining order is scheduled for Sept. 25. The DA’s office has agreed to stay enforcement of the subpoena until then.

The judge assigned the case is Victor Marrero, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton.

Danny Frost, a spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, said, “We have received the plaintiff’s complaint and will respond as appropriate in court. We will have no further comment as this process unfolds in court.”

In response to a query about the new lawsuit, Mazars provided The Hill with a copy of its current statement to all media requests. The statement reads: “Mazars USA will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations. We believe strongly in the ethical and professional rules and regulations that govern our industry, our work and our client interactions. As a matter of firm policy and professional rules we do not comment on the work we conduct for our clients.”

The new lawsuit is one of several lawsuits that Trump has filed in an effort to prevent his tax returns and other financial records from being disclosed.

Trump has also sued Mazars, Deutsche Bank and Capital One in an effort to prevent them from complying with subpoenas from House Democrats for his financial records. 

Deutsche Bank said in a court filing last month that it has tax returns relevant to subpoenas from the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees, but it did not publicly provide the name or names of the individuals or business entities whose tax returns it has. The House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoena to Mazars didn’t ask for Trump’s tax returns, and in their new complaint, Trump’s lawyers argue that the Manhattan district attorney’s subpoena to the accounting firm is very similar to the Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoena except for the fact that the New York prosecutors are also asking for the tax filings.

Trump has also filed lawsuits challenging a New York law that allows Congress to request his state tax returns, and a California law that prevents presidential candidates from appearing on the state’s primary ballot unless they disclose their tax returns. Additionally, Trump is intervening in a lawsuit that the House Ways and Means Committee has filed against the Treasury Department and IRS over the committee’s requests and subpoenas for the president’s federal tax returns.

This story was updated at 4:18 p.m.

Tags Bill Clinton Donald Trump Jay Sekulow Michael Cohen

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