What is he hiding?
Donald Trump pushed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to release his tax returns in 2012.
It’s something every presidential candidate has done since Richard Nixon.
He then promised the American people he would show his own tax returns “soon” in 2015.
But then Trump changed his tune.
Today Trump mounted his most forceful and detailed legal attack yet on the subpoena for his tax returns by the Manhattan district attorney, arguing the request was “wildly overbroad” and “issued in bad faith,” a new court filing shows.
Trump’s lawyers asked a federal judge in Manhattan to declare that the subpoena from the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat, was “invalid and unenforceable.”
They also asked that the judge issue an order barring Vance from “taking any action to enforce” the subpoena — which sought years of tax and other financial records from his accountants — and that he block Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, from turning over any of the information.
“The Mazars subpoena is so sweeping that it amounts to an unguided and unlawful fishing expedition into the President’s personal financial and business dealings,” the lawyers wrote.
Trump’s arguments came just weeks after the Supreme Court cleared the way for Manhattan prosecutors to seek his financial records, in a decision that was seen as a major defeat for Trump and a statement on the limits of presidential power.
Vance had subpoenaed Trump’s accounting firm last August for eight years of his personal tax returns and those of his family business as part of an investigation into hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress who said she had an affair with Trump.
Trump, who has denied the affair, has fought the subpoena for almost a year, arguing that a sitting president is immune from state criminal investigations.
The Supreme Court rejected Trump’s position on immunity, but it said he could return to the lower court, where his legal battle began, and raise new objections to the subpoena.
The filing on today focused on the subpoena itself, rather than the broader legal issues that were before the Supreme Court.
Vance’s office, which is scheduled to respond to Trump’s latest filing, has accused Trump of intentionally dragging out the subpoena fight to effectively shield himself from criminal investigation, and obtain the kind of immunity to which the Supreme Court said he was not entitled.
“What the president’s lawyers are seeking here is delay,” Carey R. Dunne, a senior lawyer in Mr. Vance’s office, told the lower court judge, Victor Marrero, in a hearing on July 16. “I think that’s the entire strategy here.”
Dunne said that the longer Trump fought the case, the greater the likelihood that the statute of limitations would expire for any possible crimes that might have been committed.
“Let’s not let delay kill this case,” Dunne told Judge Marrero at the hearing.
Jay Sekulow, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, denied the accusation at the time. “Our strategy seeks due process,” he said in an email.
Vance’s prosecutors have argued that Judge Marrero has already decided most of the issues Trump has raised.
Last October, the judge wrote a 75-page opinion that rejected the president’s argument that he was immune from all investigations.
In that ruling, Vance’s office has argued that Judge Marrero found there was no demonstrated bad faith or harassment in Vance’s decision to issue the subpoena, and that the judge rejected Trump’s claim that there was evidence of any motive other than enforcement of the law.
Vance’s office has been looking into whether any New York State laws were broken in connection with the hush-money payments arranged in 2016 for Daniels and another woman by Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer.
Cohen later pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance violations for his role in the payments, and was sentenced to a three years in prison.
Trump’s lawyers, in the new court filing, said they had initially cooperated with the district attorney’s investigation, turning over hundreds of documents in response to an earlier subpoena the prosecutors had issued to the Trump Organization.
But the president’s lawyers said they balked when they learned, during negotiations over the scope of the first subpoena, that the prosecutors believed it also covered Trump’s tax returns.
Trump’s lawyers said that Vance’s office then retaliated by issuing a new subpoena to the accounting firm in an effort to “circumvent the president.”
In arguing that the subpoena was overly broad, Trump’s lawyers said that it demanded “voluminous documents related to every facet of the business and financial affairs of the President and numerous associated entities — from the banal to the complex, from drafts and memoranda to formal records, from source documents to summaries.”
“Simply put,” they added, “it asks for everything.”
Even if the subpoena is ultimately enforced and Vance’s office obtains the records, they are unlikely to become public anytime soon.
The records would be covered by grand jury secrecy rules and might only emerge if charges were later filed and they were introduced in a trial.