President Trump filed a lawsuit Thursday against the district attorney who recently subpoenaed eight years of his tax returns as part of an investigation into the “hush money” payments to two women with whom Trump allegedly had affairs.
As reported by NBC News, in late August, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance subpoenaed Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns stretching back eight years. The move was part of his criminal investigation into the alleged hush money payments to two women, porn star Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who say they had affairs with Trump, claims he has denied.
On Thursday, Trump’s legal team swiped back, filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Vance for what Trump attorney Jay Sekulow suggested are unconstitutional actions by the DA.
“In response to the subpoenas issued by the New York County District Attorney, we have filed a lawsuit this morning in Federal Court on behalf of the President in order to address the significant constitutional issues at stake in this case,” Sekulow said in a statement reported by NBC.
The suit also targets Mazars USA, Trump’s long-time accounting firm. Trump’s legal team maintains that it is unconstitutional for the subpoena to be enforced while he is in office.
“Virtually ‘all legal commenters agree’ that a sitting President of the United States is not ‘subject to the criminal process’ while he is in office,” Trump’s attorneys assert in the complaint, referencing multiple legal reports. “Yet a county prosecutor in New York, for what appears to be the first time in our nation’s history, is attempting to do just that.”
Vance’s actions in the investigation, Trump’s lawyers allege, are politically motivated to undermine the president.
In its coverage of the lawsuit, CNN provides some background on the case:
The subpoena, sent August 29, asked the accounting firm for tax returns, other financial statements and communications related to several Trump companies, the Trump Foundation, the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust and Trump himself.
Vance also in early August used a grand jury in New York to subpoena Trump’s business for records related to him. That subpoena asked the company for documents and communications about Michael Cohen, the tabloid publisher American Media Inc and two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, from 2015 to September 2018, according to Thursday’s lawsuit. The two women alleged affairs with Trump, which he has denied, and the grand jury was looking into Trump Organization accounting of reimbursements for hush money payments related to the women’s accusations.
Trump’s former “fixer” Michael Cohen, who was sentenced to three years in prison for fraud, says he paid Daniels $130,000 to sign an NDA so she would stay quiet about her alleged affair with Trump years ago. After pleading guilty, Cohen said that he knowingly violated campaign finance law at the behest of Trump and claimed he was reimbursed through a series of payments by Trump and his campaign. Before being incarcerated, Cohen decried Trump as a “con man” and a “racist,” while Trump has repeatedly condemned Cohen as a “totally discredited” liar.