A Manhattan prosecutor trying to get President Donald Trump’s tax returns has told a judge he was justified in demanding them due to public reports of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organisation”.
Mr Trump’s 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 Cyrus Vance is seeking eight years of the Republican president’s personal and corporate tax records but has disclosed little about what prompted him to request the records, other than part of the investigation relates to pay-offs to women to keep them quiet about alleged affairs with Mr Trump.
In a court filing on Monday, though, attorneys for Mr Vance said Mr 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,” Mr Vance’s lawyers wrote.
They said that information confirms the validity of a subpoena seeking evidence related to potentially improper financial transactions by a variety of individuals and entities over a period of years.
They said public reporting demonstrates that at the time the subpoena was issued “there were public allegations of possible criminal activity at Plaintiff’s New York County-based Trump Organisation 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 York’s 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.
The lawyers urged Judge Victor Marrero to swiftly reject Mr Trump’s arguments, saying the baseless claims were threatening the investigation. Judge Marrero, who ruled against Mr Trump last year, has scheduled arguments to be fully submitted by mid-August.
“Every day that goes by is another day Plaintiff effectively achieves the ‘temporary absolute immunity’ that was rejected by this Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court,” Mr 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 Plaintiff’s immunity claim in the first place.”
The Supreme Court last month rejected claims by Mr Trump’s lawyers that the president could not be criminally investigated while he was in office.
Mr Vance’s lawyers said Mr Trump was not entitled to know the scope and nature of the grand jury investigation.
But they said information already in the public domain about Mr Trump’s business dealings provided satisfactory support for the subpoena of his tax records.
They cited several newspaper articles, including one in the Washington Post examining allegations that Mr Trump had a practice of sending out financial statements to potential business partners and banks that inflated the worth of his properties by claiming they were bigger or more potentially lucrative than they were.