Trump Lawyer Faces Tough Questions from Appeals Court Over His Tax Returns
By Staff, Agencies
A lawyer for US President Donald Trump Friday faced skeptical questions from a federal appeals court considering whether to let Manhattan's top prosecutor obtain the president's tax returns in connection with a criminal probe into Trump and his businesses.
William Consovoy told the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan that the subpoena from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance for the tax returns was overbroad and issued in bad faith to harass him.
"If you were to look up the definition of a fishing expedition, this is it," Consovoy said.
But the three-judge panel questioned whether Trump was seeking special privileges because he was president, and challenged whether he would find any subpoena acceptable.
In response to a question by Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier, Consovoy could not offer a circumstance where he would view any request for documents as not being overbroad.
"That's a problem," Lohier said.
Vance's probe began more than two years ago, but has been stalled as Trump fights an August 2019 grand jury subpoena to his accounting firm Mazars USA for eight years of his corporate and personal tax returns.
The probe began after Trump's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen paid hush money to silence two women before the 2016 election about claimed sexual encounters with Trump.
It now appears to go beyond the payments, with Vance saying in court filings he might have grounds to investigate Trump and his businesses for tax and insurance fraud, and that possible bank fraud might also be examined.
Friday's arguments follow the US Supreme Court's July 9 rejection of Trump's claim he was absolutely immune from criminal probes while in the White House.
The Supreme Court said Trump could raise other challenges to the subpoena. Trump has said he expects a return to that court if the appeals court rules against him, as it did last November.
In an Aug. 20 ruling, US District Judge Victor Marrero said Vance should obtain the returns, saying Trump's effort to prolong the dispute could cause statutes of limitations to run out and give him the immunity the Supreme Court rejected.