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NY prosecutors urge appeals court not to block subpoena for Trump's tax returns

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday urged a federal appeals court to deny President TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE’s effort to block prosecutors’ subpoena for his tax returns.

Trump has “established neither a likelihood of success on the merits of his constitutional claim to immunity, nor that he would suffer irreparable harm should the Court allow production under the grand jury subpoena to proceed in the ordinary course,” the district attorney’s office said in a court filing.

“By contrast, continued delay poses serious concerns for the Office of the District Attorney for New York County and the People of the State of New York: It risks the expiration of statutes of limitation that apply to some of the transactions being investigated by the grand jury, and would immediately infringe rights and obligations of the District Attorney,” the filing added.

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Trump filed a lawsuit last month, in his personal capacity, challenging a grand jury subpoena that the district attorney’s office issued in August to his accounting firm, Mazars USA, for his tax returns and other financial records.

The district attorney’s office is investigating payments made ahead of the 2016 presidential election to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump.

The president has denied the affairs, but the payments were at the center of the criminal case against his former attorney Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenPress: Trump's biggest fear is — lock him up Biden faces politically thorny decision on Trump prosecutions New York expands Trump tax fraud investigations to include write-offs: report MORE, who is now serving two years in prison on charges including campaign finance violations.

Earlier this month, Judge Victor Marrero, a federal district judge in New York appointed by former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonTrump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College Obama: 'Hopeless' to try to sell as many books as Michelle Dow breaks 30,000 for first time as Biden transition ramps up MORE, dismissed Trump’s lawsuit. Trump promptly filed an appeal. 

In a brief filed on Friday, Trump’s lawyers took issue with Marrero’s ruling, maintaining that the federal courts can exercise jurisdiction over the case and that the subpoena is unconstitutional because presidents can’t be subject to the criminal process. 

But the district attorney's office argued that the appeals court should agree with the lower court's conclusions: that Trump hasn’t shown that he’d suffer irreparable harm if Mazars complied with the subpoena and that Trump is unlikely to win on the merits of his case.

“Controlling precedent confirms that a sitting president must comply with this subpoena,” the district attorney’s office said.

Prosecutors also argued that the federal appeals court should abstain from exercising jurisdiction over the case because there’s an ongoing state criminal proceeding.

In addition to Trump’s lawyers, the Department of Justice (DOJ) also filed a brief in the case, arguing that the subpoena should be blocked until, at a minimum, the district attorney’s office shows a specific need for the documents.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday argued that the DOJ’s proposed standard “is contrary to the law.”

“It is well settled that the burden rests on the party challenging a subpoena to show that quashing is appropriate under established standards,” prosecutors wrote.  

The appeals court has scheduled oral arguments for Oct. 23 and has stayed enforcement of the subpoena until that time. 

Trump argued that if the appeals court affirms the lower court’s ruling, it should stay enforcement of the subpoena until the president files a petition to the Supreme Court.

But the district attorney’s office argued that Trump shouldn’t be granted his requested stay, calling it “unjustified.”