Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. suggested Monday that an investigation into President Donald Trump ranges far beyond disguised payments to alleged mistresses prior to the 2016 election.
As part of a continuing fight to obtain eight years of Trump’s personal and business tax records, Vance’s prosecutors asserted in court documents Monday that their grand jury subpoena was issued at a time when the Trump Organization was at the center of “allegations of possible criminal activity … dating back over a decade.”
Trump’s attorneys have long sought to quash the subpoena issued to the president’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, claiming in part that the request was too broad for an inquiry largely focused on payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed affairs with Trump before he was elected.
But in the new court filing Vance’s prosecutors said the argument by Trump’s lawyers is based on a “false premise that the grand jury’s investigation is limited to so-called ‘hush-money’ payments.”
“In light of these public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization, there was nothing facially improper (or even particularly unusual) about the Mazars subpoena, which (was) issued in connection with a complex financial investigation,” the prosecutors wrote.
The battle for Trump’s tax returns and financial records has raged on since the Supreme Court ruled last month that the president lacks immunity from criminal investigation, paving the way for Vance to resume an effort to obtain the documents.
Trump’s claim of absolute immunity faced skepticism from many of the justices during oral arguments in May, with Chief Justice John Roberts noting that the court had previously allowed former President Bill Clinton to be sued by a former employee.
Jay Sekulow, Trump’s attorney, argued that allowing the Manhattan prosecutor to obtain the president’s financial records would empower some 2,300 local district attorneys in the country, most of whom were elected, to target sitting presidents for political purposes. Carey Dunne, general counsel for the Manhattan DA’s office, rejected the argument, noting that the subject of the investigation – Trump Organization – is based in New York City.
Later Monday, Trump described the filing as a continuation of a “witch-hunt.”
Since the Supreme Court decision, the fight has moved to a New York federal district court where the president filed new papers, claiming that the request was issued in bad faith.