NY prosecutors ask judge to dismiss Trump suit over subpoena for tax returns

NY prosecutors ask judge to dismiss Trump suit over subpoena for tax returns
© Getty Images

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on Monday argued that a federal judge should reject President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE’s lawsuit over New York prosecutors' subpoenas of his tax returns from his accounting firm.

In a filing, the district attorney's office asked the judge in the case to dismiss Trump's complaint and his call for a temporary restraining order preventing Mazars USA, Trump's accounting firm, from complying with the subpoena.

The filing argues that the correct venue for any challenge should be New York state court and not federal court.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The subpoena is amenable to the same challenges in the New York courts that a federal forum provides, and the Plaintiff has failed to show as a threshold matter why this Court should be tasked with overseeing its enforcement," a memo from the district attorney's office argues.

"Important separation of powers and federalism concerns prohibit federal litigation of a state court subpoena. ... This Court should dismiss the complaint in favor of a state court forum," it continues.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office late last month issued a grand jury subpoena to Mazars for the president’s tax returns and other financial records. The subpoena is part of the office’s investigation into payments made to Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress who said she received money in exchange for keeping quiet ahead of the 2016 election about an alleged affair she had with Trump.

In its court papers filed Monday, the district attorney's office said that its grand jury investigation targets conduct that took place in New York and has yet to conclude with respect to specific charges or defendants. A section of the court papers about the grand-jury investigation was redacted.

Last week, Trump filed a lawsuit against the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr. (D), and Mazars in an effort to block the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers argue that the subpoena is unconstitutional because presidents can’t be criminally investigated and prosecuted while in office.

Trump is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stay the subpoena while the case is being adjudicated. He argues in court papers that he will “suffer irreparable harm” without a preliminary injunction and is likely to win his lawsuit on the merits of the case. And he argues that the district attorney's office doesn’t have an “urgent need” for the documents he’s subpoenaed.

But the district attorney's office said Trump's claims "lack merit" and "rely on the remarkable proposition that a sitting President enjoys not only a blanket immunity from criminal prosecution, but ... that this blanket immunity also protects a president from having to respond to any routine, lawful grand jury request for information about his conduct or that of his businesses or employees before he took office."

"The law provides no such sweeping immunity," the district attorney's office argues.

The memo also argues that Trump's lawyers failed to show that he would suffer "irreparable harm" if Mazars complied with the subpoena. They argue that any materials obtained by a grand jury subpoena would be confidential.

"As with all material obtained pursuant to a grand jury subpoena, the DA’s Office would have a legal and ethical obligation to maintain the Mazars compliance confidentially," the memo says.

The DA's office argues that if a "court later deems the Mazars Subpoena invalid, presumably that court would order the DA’s Office to destroy or return to Mazars any compliance already provided, and the DA’s Office would not oppose such an order."

A hearing is scheduled on Trump’s motion for a temporary restraining order for Wednesday in federal court in New York. The judge assigned to the case is Victor Marrero, who was appointed by former President Clinton.

The fight over the Mazars subpoena is just one of many lawsuits in which Trump is seeking to prevent the disclosure of his tax returns and other financial documents.

Trump has also sued Mazars and two of his banks to prevent them from complying with House Democratic committees' subpoenas for his financial records.

The IRS and Treasury Department are also fighting subpoenas from another panel, the House Ways and Means Committee, which has sought Trump's federal tax returns.

Trump has also filed lawsuits to contest a New York state law that allows Congress to request his tax returns from state officials and a California law that would require presidential candidates to disclose their returns to appear on a primary ballot.

Updated at 6:45 p.m.