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Judge Issues 24-Hour Freeze on Trump's Tax Return Requests, Gives Them Time to Work It Out

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Judge Issues 24-Hour Freeze on Trump's Tax Return Requests, Gives Them Time to Work It Out

2019-09-26 11:14:10

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image source: Screenshot)

Donald Trump's tax returns have definitely been a continuing drama, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero seems to want to put an end to the back-and-forth legal action.  

He put a 24-hour freeze on a New York state subpoena and gave the president's legal team and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's office 24 hours to work out their differences.

Marrero handed down the 24-hour freeze after a hearing in the dispute over Trump's tax returns. It's just one dispute. The House Ways and Means Committee is trying to get their hands on the tax returns as well. 

Not that this 24-hour freeze will help decide whether or not Trump will be forced to give up his returns, it is intended for the two sides to agree on what information can be shared with a state grand jury. If no compromise is reached, the judge will decide to either extend the deadline or issue a ruling.

In this particular case, Vance is trying to get his hands on Trump's tax returns as part of a criminal investigation into the president's businesses regarding hush money payments that were made to two of Trump's alleged mistresses to keep them quiet to ensure he would be elected. 

Trump's attorneys filed a lawsuit last week trying to block Vance's subpoena, stating he isn't entitled to the returns and that a sitting president can't be subject to a criminal investigation. Trump's accountant, Mazars USA, was named as a defendant to prevent them from turning over his financial records to prosecutors.

Manhattan federal prosecutors filed court papers backing Trump's claims and asking for the case to be paused to give them time to review the tax returns. They believe Trump has raised "weighty constitutional issues" and are considering joining his fight. 

William Consovoy, Trump's attorney, argued during Wednesday's hearng that the constitution gives him immunity from criminal investigations, and if this case goes through, he would be subject to cases in every state. He expressed that the possibility is "untenable."

Solomon Shinerock, representing Vance's office, rejected the argument that Trump can't be investigated.  

"They have no authority for the breathtaking breadth in their immunity," he said."The true risk of harm here falls on the state judicial process."

"We question whether they should be allowed to appear now at the eleventh hour," he added, arguing against federal prosecutors being allowed to join the case. He pushed for a quick decision. 

Marrero suggested a compromise of turning over records that don't deal directly with Trump and suggested something similar to the Michael Cohen case where a magistrate was selected to review the documents to filter out the ones that didn't apply.

"We cannot in good conscious agree to that," said Cary Dunne of Vance's office. 

Along with the 24 hours for the two sides to work on resolving their issues, Marrero also set Monday as a deadline for the Justice Department to decide whether they wanted to formally join the case.

The extent of the D.A.'s case is unknown. One of the filings explains that the investigation is focusing on "New York conduct" and has "yet to conclude as to specific charges or defendants." Following that section are two redacted pages. 

3,376 responsive pages have been provided by the Trump Organization so far, according to the filings, but no tax records have been turned over.

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