Friday, 05 June, 2020

Trump gets victory in bid to block California tax return law

Deanna Wagner | 20 September, 2019, 03:29

President Donald Trump notched a major victory Thursday with a federal judge's temporary injunction halting a California law aimed at forcing the president to release his tax returns.

The complaint filed in Manhattan federal court by Trump's lawyers challenges a grand jury subpoena that Vance issued on August 29 to Mazars USA, Trump's longtime accounting firm, for personal and corporate tax returns from 2011 to 2018.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court and obtained by Fox News, was in response to Vance's move to subpoena Mazars for eight years of the president's personal and corporate tax returns as part of an investigation into potential campaign finance violations.

The demand for Trump's tax data is a part of a probe into the $130,000 hush-money fee made to porn star Stormy Daniels by then-Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen forward of the 2016 election.

Neither Vance's office nor Trump's accounting firm has issued a comment, according to the Associated Press.

A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Marc Mukasey, said he is 'evaluating the situation and will respond as appropriate'.

The president's lawyers argued the subpoena to Mazars violates the U.S. Constitution because it constitutes "an attempt to criminally investigate and prosecute the president", but presidents can not be criminally investigated and prosecuted while in office.

The law was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July.

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The president's lawyers alleged in the complaint that they contacted the DA's office to "engage in good-faith negotiations" concerning the Mazars subpoena.

Mark Albert, another attorney arguing against the law, echoed this sentiment, stating in a tongue-in-check riff that eventually presidential candidates would have to release a "23 and me" report detailing his or her genetics, a reference to the private company that sells DNA kits. The firm said in a statement issued Monday that it "will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations". "We look forward to the court's written order", Sekulow said in a statement.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, asks U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero to declare the subpoena invalid and unenforceable.

Vance had sought to receive much of the subpoenaed material from Mazars by Thursday, and the tax records by September 23, but agreed to wait until after the hearing.

That lawsuit came after the committee chairman, Richard Neal, D-Mass., earlier this month sued the Trump administration, accusing officials of violating federal law by refusing to comply with the panel's requests and subpoenas for the documents.

Democratic-led congressional committees also are trying to obtain Trump's tax returns and other records that could provide a window into his finances.

Cohen, who is serving a three-year federal prison sentence for crimes related to the hush-money payments and other actions, is cooperating with Vance's investigation.

Vance issued the subpoena four weeks after issuing another subpoena to the Trump Organization for records of hush money payments, including to two women prior to the 2016 election who said they had sexual relationships with Trump, which he denies.