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Appeals Court Delays Release of Trump's Financial Records, Hearing Later this Month

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Appeals Court Delays Release of Trump's Financial Records, Hearing Later this Month

2020-09-02 21:55:47

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

The release of Donald Trump's financial records is becoming a drama. The president has lost in every court so far, but he keeps pushing to block the release of these records. There must be something in the records that could land him in deep trouble for him to keep up with this fight.

A federal appeals court has blocked the immediate release of the records to the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr. It's not really as much of a win as it sounds like because it's only being delayed until the court has a chance to hear the case later this month.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit passed down this ruling as one of the three judges on the panel pressed Vance Jr.'s attorney about the direction of his secret grand-jury investigation of Trump's private business activities. The judge believes seeking eight years of Trump's tax returns appears "really very broad."

The court's order sets a timeline for the president's appeal of a lower-court ruling last month that said Vance Jr. is entitled to his request of Trump's financial records from Mazars USA, his accounting firm. Arguments in the appeal will be heard on September 25, with the court's order remaining active pending the outcome of the hearing.

Vance is looking for the records in his investigation of hush-money payments that were made before the 2016 election to two women claiming to have had sexual relationships with Trump. His former attorney Michael Cohen has confirmed the payments and was sentenced to three years for participating in carrying out the payments.

The Supreme Court agreed with the district attorney's team that Trump's claim of being immune to the criminal investigations as president doesn't hold up. The team has also suggested it's looking at  possible bank and insurance fraud  in relation to Trump's business.

Trump's new argument is that Vance Jr.'s request is politically motivated harassment and a fishing expedition that reached too far, making it invalid.

One of the appeals court's three judges, John Walker Jr., asked an attorney with Vance Jr.'s office how it could be determined that the request for Trump's records is "very broad and might engage in some fishing."

"It seems to me it's really very broad when you're asking for activities in New York, Dubai, and so forth," said the judge.

The general counsel for Vance Jr., Carey Dunne, said the grand-jury investigation is secret and should remain so. However, Dunne also suggested it was common for Vance's team to make wide requests.

"There's nothing unusual about an office like ours asking for information about out-of-state or foreign transactions," Dunne told the appeals court, with many major banks and financial institutions being located in New York. "The company at the center has headquarters in Manhattan; that's why we have jurisdiction," he said, assumably referring to Trump's business.

The district attorney's office is seeking an expedited review because of impending statutes of limitation if it chooses to pursue criminal charges. Vance's team believes the new arguments are a delay tactic.

William Consovoy, Trump's attorney, said there would be "irreparable harm" to Trump if the subpoena were enforced before the case is fully litigated and the appeals process exhausted.

After the case landed at the appeals court last month, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero ruled in Vance Jr.'s favor, noting, "Justice requires an end to this controversy." 

Even if the district attorney's subpoena is eventually enforced, it's doubtful the public will see Trump's financial records before the election, as they may become evidence if he decides to pursue criminal charges.

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