2020-08-04 00:38:42 UTC
*The indication came in a filing by Manhattan DA Cy Vance
*Vance's office is seeking eight years of Trump Organization tax returns
*Vance told a federal judge probe was not limited to 'hush-money' payments
*Supreme Court ruled prosecutors must provide a justification for the returns in
*Trump lawyers claim subpoenas were made in bad faith
*Trump called it a 'witch hunt' and compared it to the Mueller probe
President Donald Trump railed against a 'witch hunt' Monday after New York
prosecutors seeking his tax returns told a federal court his family company is
being probed for alleged fraud.
Trump addressed the case at a White House press briefing after a rambling
introduction where he said the coronavirus would 'soon be very much under
He then got asked about the court push, where prosecutors indicated their probes
are going well beyond a hush-payment scheme to porn star Stormy Daniels and into
complex financial matters related to the company started by Trump's father and
overseen by him until he was elected in 2016.
'This is just a continuation of the witch hunt,' Trump said.
'Its Democrat stuff they failed with Mueller they failed with everything,'
Trump said, referencing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which
generally confined itself to allegations of a conspiracy between the Trump
campaign and Russians. The report preceded a failed Democratic impeachment
'They failed at every stage of the game,' Trump said. 'Even before I got in this
was starting with the Mueller deal. Mueller started a little bit after,' Trump
corrected himself. Mueller was appointed after former Attorney General Jeff
Sessions recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation in 2017.
Trump also said he was barely familiar with the matter, which was reported in
the New York Times and a variety of outlets as a court filing was made public.
'Theres nothing that I know even about it,' Trump said. 'I said whats this all
about? I know nothing about it.'
'Its a terrible thing that they do. Its really a terrible thing. The witch
hunt has gone on long enough,' he said.
A Manhattan prosecutor trying to get President Donald TrumpŽs tax returns told a
judge Monday that he was justified in demanding them, citing public reports of
'extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.'
TrumpŽs lawyers last month said the grand jury subpoena for the tax returns was
issued in bad faith and amounted to harassment of the president.
Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. is seeking
eight years of the Republican presidentŽs personal and corporate tax records,
but has disclosed little about what prompted him to request the records, other
than part of the investigation is related to payoffs made to women to keep them
quiet about alleged affairs with Trump.
In a court filing Monday, though, attorneys for Vance said Trump's arguments
that the subpoena was too broad stemmed from 'the false premise' that the probe
was limited to so-called 'hush-money' payments.
'This Court is already aware that this assertion is fatally undermined by
undisputed information in the public record,' VanceŽs lawyers wrote.
They said public reporting demonstrates that at the time the subpoena was issues
'there were public allegations of possible criminal activity at PlaintiffŽs New
York County-based Trump Organization dating back over a decade.'
'These reports describe transactions involving individual and corporate actors
based in New York County, but whose conduct at times extended beyond New YorkŽs
borders. This possible criminal activity occurred within the applicable statutes
of limitations, particularly if the transactions involved a continuing pattern
of conduct,' the lawyers said.
'In light of these public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal
conduct at the Trump Organization, there was nothing facially improper (or even
particularly unusual) about the Mazars Subpoena, which issued in connection with
a complex financial investigation, requesting eight years of records from an
accounting firm,' they wrote.
The office had earlier subpoenaed the Mazars accounting firm for the tax return
information, in a case that resulted in a 7-2 Supreme Court decision.
The lawyers urged Judge Victor Marrero to swiftly reject Trump's arguments,
saying the baseless claims were threatening the investigation. Marrero, who
ruled against Trump last year, has scheduled arguments to be fully submitted by
'Every day that goes by is another day Plaintiff effectively achieves the
`temporary absolute immunityŽ that was rejected by this Court, the Court of
Appeals, and the Supreme Court,' Vance's lawyers said. 'Every such day also
increases the prospect of a loss of evidence or the expiration of limitations
periods - the precise concerns that the Supreme Court observed justified its
rejection of PlaintiffŽs immunity claim in the first place.'
The Supreme Court last month rejected claims by TrumpŽs lawyers that the
president could not be criminally investigated while he was in office.
Vance sought the tax records in part for a probe of how TrumpŽs then-personal
lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged during the 2016 presidential race to keep the
porn actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal from airing claims of
extramarital affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the affairs.
Cohen is serving the last two years of a three-year prison sentence in home
confinement after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations and lying to
Congress, among other charges. He said he plans to publish a book critical of
the president before the November election.
The prosecutors' memo sites cites three media reports to back up the claim that
'possible criminal activity' justify the subpoena. A Wall Street Journal story
details the $130,000 hush payment that Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels,
who claims she had an affair with Trump. Another is an extensive New York Times
report alleging Trump engaged in 'outright fraud' and reported on an
investigation on practices Trump and his siblings took to lower the taxable
estate of his father, Fred Trump.
They also cited a Washington Post report that Trump overstated his wealth when
he would issue a 'Statements of Financial Condition' to lenders and insurers.
Longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen leveled the charge in House testimony
following his guilty plea of lying to Congress.