NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Federal Court of Appeals said Wednesday that the Manhattan District Attorney could enforce a subpoena on Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial documents for a criminal investigation into the U.S. president and his business.
A 3-0 ruling by the Second U.S. District Court of Appeals in Manhattan dismissed allegations by the Republican president that the subpoena was too broad and constituted political harassment by Manhattan County Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.
The president has a “heavy” burden and an “unenviable” task: to make plausible allegations that could convince the court that the summons served on him cannot serve any investigative purpose that the Grand Jury could legitimately pursue. “, it is written.” His complaint does not. ”
Jay Sekulov, Trump’s lawyer, said the president would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and seek a suspension of the summons. Vance agreed not to comply with it for 12 days until Trump quickly filed an appeal.
The Supreme Court has once ruled in a bitter annual dispute, dismissing in July Trump’s argument that he was vulnerable to criminal investigations while in the White House.
But the court said Trump may raise other objections to the Grand Jury’s summons to his longtime accounting firm Mazars USA for his corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018.
Vance issued a subpoena in August 2019. Trump is seeking re-election on November 3.
A Vance spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The unsigned decision upheld a ruling by U.S. District Judge Victor Morer in Manhattan on Aug. 20.
It came after a Sept. 28 report in The New York Times that Trump paid $ 750 federal income tax in 2016 and 2017 and no income tax for 10 of the previous 15 years, reflecting the “chronic” losses he used to avoid paying taxes. .
Trump rejected the findings of the Times report, writing on Twitter that he had paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled to depreciation and tax breaks.
He has long resisted the publication of his tax returns, unlike his six immediate predecessors, who occupied the White House.
Vance’s investigation began more than two years ago and focused on cash payments that former presidential lawyer Michael Cohen paid before the 2016 election to two women who said they had sex with Trump.
The district attorney has suggested in recent court documents that his investigation is now broader and could focus on banking, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business documents.
Trump argued that the investigation was still focused on Cohen’s payments, making the summons an improper “fishing expedition” aimed at his business interests around the world, and said Vance had wrongly copied a similar summons to Congress.
But the appeals court called “incredible” the assumption that Trump suggested that the investigation was limited to Cohen’s payments.
The court said large juries “necessarily paint with a broad brush,” especially in complex financial investigations, and from the beginning don’t know what their needs are.
He also found “no logic” to suggest that Vance had no legal reason for law enforcement to seek documents from Trump just because a congressional committee wanted the same documents for its own investigation.
The court also found no specific allegations that Vance was motivated by partisanship.
All three judges on the Board of Appeal were appointed by Democratic presidents. Five of the eight current Supreme Court justices have been appointed Republican presidents.
Even if Vance receives Trump’s tax returns, the grand jury’s confidentiality rules make it unlikely that he will disclose their contents unless a criminal case is filed. If that happens, it will probably happen after the Nov. 3 election.
Report by Jonathan Stampel in New York; Additional reports by Karen Freifeld in New York and Alexandra Alper and Sarah N. Lynch in Washington; Editors Chizu Nomiyama, Steve Orlafsky and Andrea Ritchie.
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