Trump's lawyers ready for Supreme Court in tax record fight
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures while speaking to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, before his departure to nearby Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, October 15, 2019 6:16PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 15, 2019 11:41PM EDT
NEW YORK -- U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyers said Tuesday they'll immediately go to the Supreme Court if an appeals court in New York agrees that his tax returns can be released to state prosecutors.
The lawyers notified the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan of the urgency hours before Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. filed written arguments insisting the president is not above the law.
The appeals court on Oct. 23 will hear oral arguments in Trump's challenge to a judge's decision tossing out his lawsuit seeking to block a subpoena of his tax returns since 2011. The records were sought from Trump's accounting firm for a criminal probe by Vance that stems in part from the Trump Organization's involvement in buying the silence of two women who claimed to have had affairs with the president.
The 2nd Circuit would likely rule quickly, which is why Trump's lawyers sought early notification of their plans to appeal and the need to prevent the records from being turned over before they have a chance to do so.
A spokesman for Vance declined comment. But hours later, Vance filed papers with the 2nd Circuit to support his position, saying his criminal investigation "is proceeding based upon information derived from public sources, confidential informants and the grand jury process."
He said the subpoena to Trump's accountant calls for financial and tax records of entities and individuals, including Trump, who engaged in business transactions in Manhattan.
According to the papers, the records being sought relate to business and financial matters unrelated to any official acts by Trump and primarily relate to the time-period before he became president.
On Friday, Trump's lawyers filed papers with the 2nd Circuit, saying the Constitution prohibits states from subjecting the U.S. president to criminal process while he is in office.
"Tellingly, until now, no state or local prosecutor has ever initiated criminal process against a sitting President," they wrote.
Also Friday, U.S. Justice Department lawyers in Washington urged the 2nd Circuit to reverse the findings of the lower court, saying Vance must prove "particularized need" for the records before they are released to a grand jury.
"It is not difficult to imagine that a federal court decision permitting a local grand jury to take the unprecedented step of subpoenaing the President's personal records would open the door to additional, burdensome requests," the lawyers wrote.
They added that the subpoena of Trump's personal records raises substantial constitutional "concerns that the court's perfunctory analysis entirely failed to accommodate."