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NY Prosecutors Urge Federal Judge to Reject Trump's Claim of Immunity in Demand for Tax Return Release

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NY Prosecutors Urge Federal Judge to Reject Trump's Claim of Immunity in Demand for Tax Return Release

2019-09-24 22:47:12

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: 2018 tax form (Image source: Public domain)

While Donald Trump is busy denying that he committed any wrongdoing in his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, there is still some old business to attend to: his tax returns.

There are multiple efforts going on to get ahold of the president's tax returns, and this includes New York and the House Ways and Means Committee. There are also multiple lawsuits on both sides. 

New York prosecutors filed paperwork on Monday asking a federal judge to reject Trump's motion to block a subpoena asking for his tax returns. They believe despite being in office, that he doesn't have a "sweeping immunity" from a criminal investigation. Additionally, the prosecutors believe this matter belongs in New York state court and not in a federal court.

On Friday Trump asked a federal court to block a New York grand jury subpoena asking for eight years of tax returns from Trump and his businesses. These tax returns could be used as evidence to prove that he participated in campaign finance violations when he authorized hush-money payments to two women claiming they had affairs with him.  

Trump's attorneys are claiming a sitting president can't be part of a criminal process while he's still in office. They are suggesting the federal court should declare that the subpoena is unconstitutional.

The prosecutors responded to the president's legal team's claims that he is "seeking to invent and enforce a new presidential 'tax return privilege,' on the theory that disclosing information in a tax return will necessarily reveal information that will somehow impede the functioning of a president, sufficiently to meet the test of irreparable harm." 

Additionally, they stated that Trump's claim of immunity is "undone by the fact that every president since Jimmy Carter has voluntarily released his tax returns before or upon taking office, which has to date never impeded a president's ability to serve."

While the House Ways and Means Committee is trying to get the tax returns directly from the Internal Revenue Service, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is seeking the returns from Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA.  

The prosecutors believe the "sole question" is whether the firm should be required to give the returns to a grand jury. They note there are no "threatened or pending state charges" against the president.

They believe this case "should be litigated in the New York court having jurisdiction over the Grand Jury that issued the subpoena.

Additionally, they stated that New York law affords equal protection against improper subpoenas, whether they be challenged under the United States Constitution, which state courts must uphold ... or challenged as being in 'bad faith or ... for some other reason invalid.' " 

Former President Bill Clinton-appointee U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero scheduled a hearing for his on Wednesday.

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