- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 19, 2019

President Trump on Thursday sued to block Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. from obtaining his tax returns.

The filing came hours before a federal judge in California delivered a victory to the president. The judge granted the Trump campaign’s motion to block a new state law requiring candidates to release five years of tax returns to qualify for the 2020 primary.

A written ruling is due Oct. 1.

California state officials are mulling an appeal. They argued a candidate’s tax returns provide critical information for voters.

“States have a legal and moral duty to restore public confidence in government and ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards,” said Jesse Melgar, a spokesman for Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom, according to The Associated Press.

Trump’s attorneys argued the Constitution, not states, determine the rules governing the release of a candidate’s financial records.

California’s attorneys maintained the state has the right to manage its own election regulations.

But U.S. District Judge Morrison England also questioned why the president was willing to forgo the California primary rather than release his tax returns.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump challenged a subpoena issued by New York prosecutors probing potential campaign finance violations during the 2016 election related to hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with the president.

Mr. Trump’s lawsuit claims the actions of Mr. Vance, a Democrat elected in 2010, are pure politics.

“The subpoena is a bad faith effort to harass the president by obtaining and exposing his confidential personal information, not a legitimate attempt to enforce New York law,” the lawsuit says.

Mr. Trump’s attorneys also alleged Mr. Vance’s subpoena’s are “unconstitutional” because a sitting president cannot be subject “to the criminal process.”

“Yet a county prosecutor in New York, for what appears to be the first time in our nation’s history, is attempting to just that,” they wrote.

However, the president’s legal team concedes that the issue of whether a sitting president can be criminally prosecuted or investigated has not been decided by the courts.

“In response to the subpoenas issued by the New York County District Attorney, we have filed a lawsuit this morning in Federal Court on behalf of the President in order to address the significant constitutional issues at stake in this case,” Jay Sekulow, the president’s attorney, said in a statement.

The filing was a response to Mr. Vance subpoenaing the president’s tax returns as his office probes potential campaign finance violations during the 2016 election related to hush money payments to Ms. Daniels.

Mr. Vance’s spokesman, Danny Frost, said in response: “We have received the plaintiff’s complaint and will respond as appropriate in court.”

According to Axios, this is the third time the president has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the release of his tax returns. He also has challenged House Democrats’ attempts to obtain the information.

Marc Mukasey, an attorney who represents the Trump Organization, said “we are in court to protect the president’s rights and the Constitution.”

Mr. Trump’s lawsuit also named his longtime accounting firm Mazars USA as a defendant in the lawsuit. Mazars earlier this week confirmed it had received a subpoena from New York prosecutors seeking years of Mr. Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns.

A Mazars spokeswoman said the company “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”

The lawsuit is the latest bid by Mr. Trump to prevent prosecutors and Democrats from acquiring his tax documents. Mr. Trump bucked a decades-long tradition of presidential candidates sharing their tax returns with the public while on the campaign trail.

William Consovoy, a Virginia lawyer, filed a motion seeking to represent Mr. Trump in the case.

In addition to Mazars and Mr. Vance, the lawsuit also names as a defendant Solomon Shinerock, the head of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau for the New York District Attorney’s Office.

Mr. Vance is probing whether the Trump Organization falsified records related to the hush payments, which were facilitated by Mr. Trump’s fixer, Michael Cohen. The payments were made ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen is serving a three-year sentence at a federal prison in Otisville, New York, for his role in facilitating the payments among other crimes.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide