Court Battles

Manhattan DA accuses Trump of trying to stall tax return subpoena

The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Thursday accused President Trump of trying to delay court proceedings over a subpoena for his tax returns after the Supreme Court ruled the president does not have absolute immunity from the prosecutor’s investigation.

“What the president’s lawyers are seeking here is delay,” Carey Dunne, a lawyer with the district attorney’s office, said during a court hearing. “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.”

The president’s legal team, chastened by the Supreme Court’s rejection of their claim that Trump is totally immune to the state grand jury investigation at issue in the case, has shifted their focus to the remaining legal challenges at their disposal, namely that the subpoena at issue is overly broad.

“We believe that we can further allege — if the president chooses to do so — that this is not a properly tailored subpoena,” said William Consovoy, one of Trump’s attorneys.

Consovoy argued that because the subpoenas are identical to ones issued by House committees investigating the president, they will likely have to be narrowed significantly and that the case will require a discovery process to allow for a more thorough challenge against the district attorney’s office.

“Although the president has not had access to the entire declaration from the district attorney’s office, we continue to be deeply skeptical that a subpoena from a New York county fortuitously is exactly the same scope and feature as two different federal investigations focused on federal issues,” Consovoy said.

The president’s legal team has vowed to continue to fight the subpoenas, which were directed to Trump’s accountants, using legal challenges other than the one struck down by the Supreme Court.

The high court ruled 7-2 last week that the president has no special immunity to such grand jury subpoenas. But in the majority decision, Chief Justice John Roberts noted the “President may avail himself of the same protections available to every other citizen, including the right to challenge the subpoena on any grounds permitted by state law, which usually include bad faith and undue burden or breadth.”

Roberts also wrote that the president can raise legal challenges that are tailored to specific subpoenas, like arguing that the investigative demand is designed to influence his official actions or that complying with them would impede him from carrying out the duties of his office.

Trump’s lawyers have until July 27 to file a new lawsuit against the district attorney’s office.

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