A federal appeals court should not provide personal financial records to a Manhattan prosecutor, the president has said.
President Donald Trump has instructed the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City not to hand over his eight years of personal tax returns to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
The president warned releasing his private information from accounting firm Mazars USA would expose him to “irreparable harm,” and the U.S. Supreme Court should intervene in Vance’s subpoena for the tax returns, a Reuters report said.
He is appealing against the U.S. District Court’s failure to block the subpoena. Manhattan Judge Victor Marrero previously upheld a grand jury subpoena from Vance to collect the information, even though doing so would be “wildly overboard” and issued in bad faith.
Marrero feared granting presidential immunity to the subpoena could constitute “undue expansion.”
“Justice requires an end to this controversy,” he said in his 103-page judgment, according to Reuters.
However, the president hopes an emergency motion will postpone the deadline for handing over his tax returns based on his argument that releasing the “private, confidential information” would cause irreversible damage.
Once the motion is accepted, the matter will be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Oval Office will have an opportunity to challenge the subpoena on other grounds.
Regardless of the outcome, strict litigation and grand jury secrecy rules will mean the tax returns are unlikely to be disclosed before the upcoming election on Nov. 3.
“This is a continuation of the most disgusting witch hunt in the history of our country,” the president said, according to Reuters. “This is the ultimate fishing expedition.”
President Trump’s legal team previously urged the Supreme Court to overrule the subpoena because it would compromise privacy.
They described any criminal probe of the president at the state or local level as unconstitutional and unprecedented in American history.
“Allowing the sitting president to be targeted for criminal investigation—and to be subpoenaed on that basis—would, like an indictment itself, distract him from the numerous and important duties of his office, intrude on and impair executive branch operations, and stigmatize the presidency,” American Center for Law and Justice chief counsel Jay Sekulow said in a brief according to The Associated Press.
President Trump’s lawyers have also accused Vance’s actions of being politically motivated.
The Department of Justice previously intervened on the president’s behalf in New York, requiring the district attorney to prove a “particularized need” for the records before being released to a grand jury.