NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s efforts to keep his tax returns private played out on both coasts Thursday, with a California judge handing him an initial victory and his lawyers in New York City arguing that federal prosecutors there are trying “to harass” him by seeking the documents.
On the West Coast, a federal judge in Sacramento granted the Trump campaign’s request to block a new California law that requires presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns to run in the state’s March 2020 primaries. State officials are deciding whether to appeal.READ MORE: Gov. Lamont: Connecticut Man Who Tested Positive For Omicron Variant Has Mild Symptoms, Resting At Home
The ruling came hours after the president sued to block New York prosecutors from their push to obtain his returns as part of a criminal investigation into payments made to two women who claimed to have affairs with Trump.
Trump’s attorneys filed a lawsuit against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who recently subpoenaed the president’s accounting firm for eight years of his state and federal returns as part of an investigation into payments made to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.
They called the subpoena a “bad faith effort to harass” Trump and said Vance, a Democrat, had overstepped his constitutional authority.
“Virtually ‘all legal commenters agree’ that a sitting President of the United States is not ‘subject to the criminal process’ while he is in office,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. “Yet a county prosecutor in New York, for what appears to be the first time in our nation’s history, is attempting to do just that.
The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, asks U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero to declare the subpoena unenforceable until Trump leaves office.
Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said the lawsuit is intended “to address the significant constitutional issues at stake in this case.”
A spokesman for Vance said his office had received the lawsuit “and will respond as appropriate in court.” Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, declined to comment.
The lawsuit marks Trump’s latest attempt to prevent his tax returns from being seen by Democratic investigators and comes as his campaign is fighting a new law in California requiring presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns as a condition of appearing on the state’s March 2020 primary ballot.READ MORE: Bob Dole, Former Senate GOP Leader And Presidential Nominee, Dies At 98
Meanwhile, Democratic-led congressional committees are also trying to obtain Trump’s tax returns and other records that could provide a window into his finances. Trump and three of his children filed a lawsuit in April seeking to block two House committees from getting records that his longtime lender, Deutsche Bank, has said include tax returns.
And in July, the president sued to block a new New York law that could allow a House committee to obtain his state tax returns.
Unlike those efforts, Vance’s investigation is conducting a criminal probe. His subpoenas were issued by a grand jury.
The grand jury also subpoenaed the Trump Organization for records related to payments that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen helped arrange to the porn actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal during the 2016 presidential campaign to keep either woman from speaking publicly about alleged affairs with Trump. He made one of the payments himself and arranged for American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, to make the other.
Cohen pleaded guilty to federal charges that the payments amounted to illegal campaign contributions. Federal prosecutors did not charge Trump or anyone else involved in either arranging the payoffs or reimbursing Cohen through Trump’s company.
Trump has denied any sexual relationship with either woman and said any payments were personal matters, not campaign expenses.
In a letter to Manhattan prosecutors made public as part of Thursday’s lawsuit, Trump’s lawyers, Marc Mukasey, William Consavoy and Alan Futerfas, wrote that the Trump Organization had already willingly provided “hundreds of documents” to Vance’s team of investigators.
Vance is also pursuing a mortgage fraud case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.MORE NEWS: Zayid Muthana Has Successful Surgery To Remove Bullet From His Head, Family Says
(© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)