NEW YORK, Sept 12 — US President Donald Trump yesterday urged a federal appeals court to block what he called a bad faith effort by Manhattan’s top prosecutor to enforce a “dragnet” subpoena for his tax returns to advance a criminal probe into his businesses.
In a filing with the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in in New York, Trump’s lawyers said a lower court judge erred in giving Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance a green light to obtain eight years of business and personal tax returns from the president’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA.
Trump has spent more than a year resisting the subpoena, and is appealing an August 20 decision by US District Judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan to allow its enforcement.
He said Marrero should be required to reexamine his claims without prejudging them as “back-door attempts” to claim absolute immunity from criminal probes while in the White House, an argument the US Supreme Court rejected in July.
A spokesman for Vance did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Oral arguments are scheduled for September 25.
The appeals process likely means Trump’s tax returns will not become public before November 3, when the Republican president is seeking reelection.
According to yesterday’s filing, Vance, a Democrat, largely copied an earlier subpoena from Congressional Democrats, who themselves were “restless” to obtain his returns.
It said the subpoena “makes dragnet requests for reams of the President’s papers, requests documents as far back as 2011, and seeks records from entities all over the world,” giving it an “unlimited breadth” that Marrero failed to take into account.
“Subpoenas issued to the President that are ‘arbitrary fishing expeditions’ or that are issued ‘out of malice or an intent to harass’ are invalid,” the filing said.
Vance began his probe after news that Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen made hush money payments before the 2016 election to keep two women quiet about their claimed sexual encounters with Trump, which the president has denied.
Last month, Vance suggested in a court filing his subpoena was also related to “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct” at the president’s business, the Trump Organisation, including insurance and bank fraud.
In refusing to immunize Trump from Vance’s probe, the Supreme Court nevertheless said he could raise other objections to the subpoena, including as to its scope.
Vance has said dragging out the litigation has effectively given Trump the immunity he wanted.
The prior six presidents, including three Republicans and three Democrats, have released their tax returns. — Reuters