BY JONATHAN STEMPEL
U.S. President Donald Trump made a final push to keep his tax returns away from Manhattan’s top prosecutor, saying he deserves a “fair chance” to show a subpoena for the returns was overbroad and issued in bad faith, according to a court filing on Thursday.
Trump’s lawyers made the filing with the federal appeals court in Manhattan.
That court will hear oral arguments on Friday over whether Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can enforce a grand jury subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of his corporate and personal tax returns for a criminal probe.
Trump is appealing U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero’s Aug. 20 ruling to enforce the subpoena, following an unsuccessful effort this year to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court he was immune from criminal probes while in the White House.
Vance is probing Trump and his businesses, which include the Trump Organization.
The probe began after news that Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made hush money payments before the 2016 election to keep two women quiet about claimed sexual encounters with Trump, which the president denies.
Vance has signaled the probe has a broader scope.
He has said in court filings he might have grounds to investigate Trump and his businesses for tax fraud, insurance fraud and falsifying business records, and the probe also related to reports of possible bank fraud.
But Trump’s lawyers said the probe “is about the Cohen payments,” and accused Vance of making it seem the grand jury was examining reported allegations about Trump and his businesses “no matter how baseless, how old, or how far beyond the District Attorney’s compass.”
They also said “fever pitch” tensions between Vance and the Trump Organization made Trump’s allegations even more plausible.
Vance’s “apparent trepidation at having to defend this subpoena on the merits is not a basis for denying the President a fair chance to test its legality,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.
All three judges on the appeals court panel were appointed by Democratic presidents, as was Marrero. Vance is also a Democrat, while Trump is a Republican. Trump could appeal again to the Supreme Court if he loses.
Vance’s probe is separate from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil investigation into whether Trump and the Trump Organization overstated the value of some assets to obtain loans and tax benefits.
A New York state judge on Wednesday ordered Trump’s son Eric, a Trump Organization executive vice president, to answer questions under oath in that probe by Oct. 7.