Prosecutor says Trump wants ‘sweeping immunity’ in tax fight
NEW YORK (AP) — Manhattan’s district attorney urged a judge Monday to reject the “sweeping immunity” sought by President Donald Trump to protect him from divulging his tax returns in a criminal probe.
District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. filed papers in federal court after Trump’s attorneys sued last week to stop Vance from forcing the president’s accounting firm to release eight years of his state and federal returns in a criminal probe.
Vance urged a judge to reject Trump’s request for a temporary order blocking Vance’s subpoena for the records in a probe of payments made to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.
He also asked U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero to dismiss the lawsuit, saying it belongs in state court, if anywhere. Marrero has scheduled oral arguments for Wednesday.
Vance said Trump was asserting the “remarkable proposition” that a sitting president not only enjoys blanket immunity from criminal prosecution, but also isn’t required to submit to a routine grand jury request for information about what he, his businesses or employees did before he took office.
“The law provides no such sweeping immunity,” the court papers said.
“Here, the question is not whether a state prosecutor can indict a sitting President,” the papers said. “Instead, the issue is whether a third party, having been duly served with a state grand jury subpoena seeking the books and records of a number of individuals and corporate entities, including those of the President, must comply with the subpoena.”
Trump’s lawyers have called the subpoena requests by Vance, a Democrat, a “bad faith effort to harass” Trump.
Trump’s lawyers asked Marrero to declare the subpoena unenforceable until Trump leaves office.
The subpoena pertained to an investigation seeking 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.
Trump has denied any sexual relationship with either woman, saying any payments were personal matters, not campaign expenses.
Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to various federal charges, including campaign finance fraud and lying to Congress.
The case before Marrero comes as Trump’s lawyers fight off other efforts to get his tax records.
Trump has sued to block two House committees from getting his tax returns and to shield him from a New York law that could let a House committee get his state tax returns.
Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee also have sued in federal court in Sacramento, California, to fight a new law in California requiring presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns to appear on the state’s March 2020 primary ballot. A hearing is set for Thursday.