NEW YORK — A Manhattan prosecutor trying to get President Donald Trump’s tax returns told a judge Monday that he was justified in demanding them, citing public reports of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”
Trump’s lawyers last month said the grand jury subpoena for the tax returns was issued in bad faith and amounted to harassment of the president.
Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. seeks eight years of the Republican president’s personal and corporate tax records, but has disclosed little about what prompted him to request the records, other than part of the investigation relates to payoffs to women to keep them quiet about alleged affairs with Trump.
In a court filing Monday, though, attorneys for Vance said Trump’s arguments that the subpoena was too broad stemmed from “the false premise” that the probe was limited to so-called “hush-money” payments.
“This Court is already aware that this assertion is fatally undermined by undisputed information in the public record,” Vance’s lawyers wrote. They said that information confirms the validity of a subpoena seeking evidence related to potentially improper financial transactions by a variety of individuals and entities over a period of years.
They said public reporting demonstrates that at the time the subpoena was issued “there were public allegations of possible criminal activity at Plaintiff’s New York County-based Trump Organization dating back over a decade.”
“These reports describe transactions involving individual and corporate actors based in New York County, but whose conduct at times extended beyond New York’s borders. This possible criminal activity occurred within the applicable statutes of limitations, particularly if the transactions involved a continuing pattern of conduct,” the lawyers said.
The lawyers urged Judge Victor Marrero to swiftly reject Trump’s arguments, saying the baseless claims were threatening the investigation. Marrero, who ruled against Trump last year, has scheduled arguments to be fully submitted by mid-August.
“Every day that goes by is another day Plaintiff effectively achieves the ‘temporary absolute immunity’ that was rejected by this Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court,” Vance’s lawyers said. “Every such day also increases the prospect of a loss of evidence or the expiration of limitations periods — the precise concerns that the Supreme Court observed justified its rejection of Plaintiff’s immunity claim in the first place.”
The Supreme Court last month rejected claims by Trump’s lawyers that the president could not be criminally investigated while he was in office.
Vance’s lawyers said Trump was not entitled to know the scope and nature of the grand jury investigation. But they said information already in the public domain about Trump’s business dealings provided satisfactory support for the subpoena of his tax records.
They cited several newspaper articles, including one in the Washington Post examining allegations that Trump had a practice of sending out financial statements to potential business partners and banks that inflated the worth of his properties by claiming they were bigger or more potentially lucrative than they were.
Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, described such practices during congressional testimony.
Vance sought the tax records in part for a probe of how Cohen arranged during the 2016 presidential race to keep the porn actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal from airing claims of extramarital affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the affairs.
Cohen is serving the last two years of a three-year prison sentence in home confinement after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations and lying to Congress, among other charges. He said he plans to publish a book critical of the president before the November election.
Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press