DOJ Supports Trump in Lawsuit Over Manhattan AG’s Subpoena for Tax Returns

October 3, 2019 Updated: October 3, 2019

The Department of Justice said in a court filing that it supports President Donald Trump’s suit looking for relief from a subpoena issued by Manhattan Attorney General Cyrus Vance over Trump’s tax returns.

Vance subpoenaed Trump’s accounting firm for eight years of Trump’s tax returns, prompting Trump to file a lawsuit against Vance. Trump’s legal team argued that Vance’s efforts were unconstitutional and sought temporary relief while the case was working its way through the courts.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement in support of the president on Oct. 2: “The United States participates now to explain why it is both correct and important that the President’s challenge to the subpoena on account of his office be resolved in federal court rather than in state court, and to support interim relief as necessary to allow for appropriate briefing of the weighty constitutional issues involved.”

A state court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the case, the department said. Both the Supreme Court and Congress have effectively already made clear that the type of claims the President has raised ought to be adjudicated in federal rather than state court, government lawyers and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman stated in the filing.

“The United States thus respectfully renews its request that the Court enter a briefing schedule that will permit the type of considered deliberation appropriate for the serious constitutional issues at stake in this proceeding, and also enter interim relief as necessary to preserve the status quo pending that deliberation (if the parties cannot negotiate a production schedule for the subpoena that would enable a timely resolution of the claims presented here),” they wrote.

“Doing so will prevent irreparable harm to the President’s asserted constitutional interest in not having his records subjected to state criminal compulsory process in these circumstances, while the District Attorney has identified no prejudice from a short delay to this discrete portion of the grand jury investigation at issue.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. in Atlanta on Oct. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. in Atlanta on Oct. 21, 2014. (Branden Camp/AP Photo)

Berman informed the judge overseeing the case, President Bill Clinton-appointee Victor Marrero, on Sept. 30 that the government would intervene in the case after the judge put a brief stay on the subpoena while the DOJ decided whether to get involved.

Vance has not responded to the filing.

Vance and government lawyers agreed in late September that Vance wouldn’t enforce the subpoena until Oct. 7, or two business days after a judge rules on Trump’s challenge to the subpoena, whichever comes first, reported Reuters.

Mazars USA, Trump’s former accounting firm, previously told The Epoch Times in a statement: “Mazars USA will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations. We believe strongly in the ethical and professional rules and regulations that govern our industry, our work and our client interactions. As a matter of firm policy and professional rules we do not comment on the work we conduct for our clients.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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