New York attorneys subpoena eight years of Trump tax returns: report

Prosecutors in New York are reportedly escalating their efforts to obtain President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani says he is unaware of reported federal investigation Louisiana's Democratic governor forced into runoff Lawmakers focus their ire on NBA, not China MORE's tax returns as part of their investigation into hush money payments made to women who have alleged affairs with the president.

State prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office sent subpoenas late last month to Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, in an attempt to obtain eight years of the president's personal and business tax filings as part of a broader effort to analyze his financial records, The New York Times reported Monday.

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The office is investigating payments made to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who has claimed to have received payments in exchange for her silence during the 2016 election after allegedly having an affair with Trump.

Former Trump personal lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenTrump's tirades, taunts and threats are damaging our democracy Maxine Waters: Trump should be imprisoned and 'placed in solitary confinement' Michael Cohen denies Omarosa advising him in prison MORE testified earlier this year that he delivered the payment to Daniels at the behest of Trump and said he had been reimbursed by the president and his organization.

Trump has denied the affair and any other wrongdoing.

A spokesperson for the district attorney's office declined to comment.

The prosecutors are requesting Mazars USA provide both federal and state tax returns for Trump and the Trump Organization dating back to 2011.

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The subpoena marks the latest effort from Democrats at multiple levels of government to obtain and examine Trump's tax returns.

Trump is the first president in decades to refuse to release any of his tax returns. He has cited an IRS audit for why he hasn't made them public available, but the IRS has said audits don't prevent people from disclosing their own tax information.

It could be challenging for Trump to try to block a subpoena in this instance because it's part of a criminal investigation with a sitting grand jury, the Times reported, while noting that the Trump Organization could attempt to negotiate with the district attorney's office to limit the scope of the subpoena.

If the Manhattan district attorney's office is able to obtain Trump's tax returns, the documents would be subject to grand-jury secrecy rules and wouldn't be made public unless they were evidence in a criminal case, according to the Times.

House Democrats have been pursuing a number of routes in their effort to obtain Trump's tax returns.

The House Ways and Means Committee is seeking to obtain six years of Trump's federal returns, arguing the documents are needed for oversight of how the IRS enforces tax laws against presidents. The committee filed a lawsuit in July in an effort to obtain the documents, after the Treasury Department and IRS rejected requests and subpoenas.

The House Financial Services and Intelligence committees have issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank for tax returns and financial records of Trump, his three oldest children and his businesses. Last month, Deutsche Bank told a federal appeals court in New York that it has tax returns responsive to the subpoenas, but did not publicly state whose tax returns it had.

At the state level, New York has enacted a law that allows Congress to request Trump's state tax returns from the state's department of taxation and finance, and California has enacted a law to prevent presidential candidates from appearing on the state's primary ballot unless they disclose their tax returns. Trump has filed lawsuits challenging both of those laws.

The district attorney’s office isn’t the only entity that has subpoenaed Trump financial records from Mazars. The House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena to the accounting firm in April, and Trump is challenging that subpoena in court.

Separately, the House Judiciary Committee has pledged to examine the hush money payments as part of its sprawling probe into obstruction, public corruption and other abuses of power.

While Judiciary Democrats say Cohen has already provided testimony on the matter, they are considering bringing in David Pecker, the CEO of the company that publishes National Enquirer. Members have offered varied answers as to whether they will bring in the two women involved in the hush money payments.

The National Enquirer came under scrutiny after The Wall Street Journal reported in November 2016 that the tabloid had withheld a story about an alleged affair with former Playboy Model Karen McDougal, another woman who claims she had an affair with Trump.

Cohen also played a role in arranging a payoff to McDougal through the Enquirer that totaled $150,000.

Cohen, who pleaded guilty to lying to congressional investigators as well as other crimes in November, implicated Trump in the hush money scheme when he testified before Congress earlier this year. He cooperated with prosecutors as part of his plea agreement.

Cohen has alleged that Trump directed him to mislead the public about the president’s knowledge of a payment Daniels during a phone call in February 2018 when news of the payments was beginning to surface.

The president, in return, has attacked his onetime confidante, calling him a “rat” who is lying to investigators to reduce his time in prison.

Cohen is serving a three-year sentence.

Updated at 4:36 p.m.