Manhattan district attorney won't try to enforce Trump tax return subpoena during appeals

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U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to speak about the administration’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing plan in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, September 28, 2020.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday it will not seek to enforce a subpoena for President Donald Trump‘s income tax returns until the president’s appeal of the subpoena is resolved.

The grand jury subpoena would compel accounting firm Mazars USA to turn over eight years of returns and other financial documents related to Trump and the Trump Organization.

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office, in a letter Tuesday to the clerk of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, said the office understood that the appeals court’s order from early September staying proceedings in the case to be an effective block on the subpoena for now, despite not explicitly saying so.

“Consistent with this understanding, our office will not seek to enforce the Mazars Subpoena pending determination by this Court of the current appeal,” Vance deputy Carey Dunne said in the letter.

The letter comes five weeks before the presidential election, where Trump faces a challenge from former Vice President Joe Biden, and two days after The New York Times published a bombshell report revealing that Trump has paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and no federal income taxes in other years spanning back a decade or more.

The expose also said that over the next four years, Trump faces debt repayments that he has personally guaranteed totaling more than $400 million.

Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., released their income tax returns on Tuesday afternoon.

Trump earlier this year lost a Supreme Court appeal that sought to block the Mazars subpoena, which Vance’s office had obtained a part of an ongoing criminal investigation of the Trump Organization. The high court ruled that Trump did not have the right to prevent a state prosecutor from enforcing such a subpoena just because he was president.

But the Supreme Court said Trump could make further arguments against the subpoena in a federal district court.

Trump’s lawyers then did so. But a Manhattan federal judge rejected those arguments.

Trump appealed that rejection. A three-judge panel in the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit last week heard arguments on his appeal.

A judge on the panel noted during the hearing that there appeared to be no bar on Vance obtaining the documents while the appeal was pending.

The court then ordered parties in the case “to submit their views on the status of any stay preventing enforcement of the subpoena at issue in this case … and whether any such stay is the result of a forbearance or an order of the Court,” Dunne’s letter said.

“As described below, there is no voluntary or negotiated forbearance currently in effect to prevent enforcement,” Dunne wrote.

“However, for the reasons set forth below, we understand the Court’s order of September 1, 2020, to stay enforcement of the Mazars Subpoena pending determination of the appeal.”

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