Court rules Trump can’t block grand jury subpoena for his tax returns

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President Donald Trump’s effort to block a New York grand jury subpoena for his tax returns has been rejected by a federal appeals court.

A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld the ruling of a lower court from August, rejecting Trump’s contention that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s subpoena was too broad and was issued in bad faith, arguing it may have been politically motivated.

Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, was subpoenaed last year in an attempt to retrieve financial documents dating back to 2011, including the president’s personal and business tax returns. The grand jury subpoena in August of 2019 was part of an investigation of the Trump Organization.

Trump challenged the subpoena, arguing immunity as a president. But eventually, the Supreme Court rejected his argument in July and sent the case back to the lower courts.

“We have considered all of the President’s remaining contentions on appeal and have found in them no basis for reversal,” the court had said in its decision.

Through his lawyers, the president again challenged the subpoena as too broad and constituting a form of presidential harassment. The argument was made that the investigation by the New York prosecutors’ grand-jury was limited to payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal, who both alleged that they had affairs with Trump.

The payments were allegedly made by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, before the 2016 presidential election. The president has denied the accusations by the women.

In its opinion, the appeals court ruled that Trump’s complaint “never actually alleges that the grand jury was not investigating anything other than the 2016 Michael Cohen payments.”

In a court filing last month, prosecutors suggested that Trump’s businesses could come under investigation for tax and insurance fraud.

“Even if the grand jury were testing the truth of public allegations alone, such reports, taken together, fully justify the scope of the grand jury subpoena at issue in this case,” they wrote in the filing.

“In particular, public reports have alleged that Trump Organization executives used fraudulent financial statements as part of long-standing practices of overstating assets sent to potential business partners and lenders and minimizing assets in tax returns,” prosecutors wrote.

The Hill reported:

The appeals court on Wednesday also rejected arguments Trump made that the subpoena is too broad because it seeks information from a variety of entities, seeks materials from businesses with operations outside of Manhattan, seeks many types of documents, seeks documents that cover a nine-year period and seeks documents that are not relevant to the criminal investigation.

 

Trump’s other argument that the subpoena from the district attorney’s office was a form of harassment was also rejected by the appeals court.

“Even accounting for the public status and visibility of the President, as well as the political interest in his tax returns, none of the facts asserted in the [second amended complaint], accepted as true, would be sufficient for such a claim to prevail,” the judges wrote.

A motion for a stay with the Supreme Court will now be filed, according to Trump attorneys Jay Sekulow and Will Consovoy.

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Frieda Powers

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