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Trump questions Manhattan DA investigation prompting tax return subpoena

President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE's legal team on Monday questioned the Manhattan district attorney's suggestion last week that it is pursuing a broad investigation into "possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization."

In their latest court filing challenging a subpoena for the president's tax returns, Trump's lawyers pushed back after the New York prosecutor last week cited a trio of news articles detailing alleged fraud at Trump's businesses as a justification for the investigation.

Trump is arguing that the subpoena is overly broad and intended to illegally "harass" the president, while the district attorney's office is asking a federal judge to dismiss Trump's latest legal challenge against the subpoena.

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"At no point — in this motion or in any public filing — has the District Attorney ever claimed that the topics discussed in these reports were the impetus for his investigation or are otherwise related to it," Trump's lawyers wrote on Monday. "Lobbing incendiary articles into the record may be sufficient to trigger a breathless news cycle, but such misdirection falls woefully short of what is needed for dismissal. If anything, it shows that the District Attorney is still fishing for a way to justify his harassment of the President."

A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney declined to comment.

Trump is raising new legal objections to the subpoena, which is seeking eight years of tax returns and other financial documents from his accounting firm, after the Supreme Court rejected his argument that the president has special immunity from state grand jury investigations.

Last week, in response to the president's new claim that the subpoena is invalid because of its breadth, the district attorney's office pointed to news articles reporting that Trump and his businesses may have engaged in fraud.

It was the first time that the district attorney had hinted at the broad nature of the investigation into Trump's finances. The prosecutor's office had previously only cited a hush money scheme involving payments in 2016 to two women who claimed to have had affairs with the president before he came into office.

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Trump's lawyers argued on Monday that the "allegations and innuendo" in the news articles cited last week are still not enough to justify the subpoena.

"If the District Attorney convened the grand jury in order to investigate allegations discussed in these articles, he could’ve said so," they wrote in their court filing. "But the bare fact that 'there were public allegations of possible criminal activity,' which is all these citations show, provides no insight into whether the grand jury is in fact investigating them and whether they were a basis for issuing this subpoena."

The district attorney has accused Trump's lawyers of trying to stall the subpoena following the defeat at the Supreme Court.

"What the president’s lawyers are seeking here is delay," Carey Dunne, a lawyer with the district attorney's office, told the court last month. "I think that’s the entire strategy. Every day that goes by, the president wins the type of absolute temporary immunity he’s been seeking in this case, even though he’s lost on that claim before every court that’s heard it, including now the Supreme Court."