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Trump sues Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and accounting firm Mazars over attempt to get tax returns

CNBC logo CNBC 9/19/2019 Kevin Breuninger

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President Donald Trump on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and his longtime accounting firm, days after news broke that the prosecutor had subpoenaed years of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns.

Vance’s office had issued a subpoena last month to accounting firm Mazars. The firm said in a statement issued Monday that it “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”

“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,” Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement Thursday morning.

The suit marks the latest attempt by Trump to take legal action against prosecutors and lawmakers who have attempted to acquire tax documents that Trump has avoided publicly disclosing since his presidential campaign. Modern presidential candidates have shared years of their tax returns with the public while on the campaign trail.

Trump, the head of a global real estate empire, had promised to release his returns after the completion of an audit — even though an audit was never an obstacle to disclosure. Trump never disclosed those tax returns during the 2016 election, or after, and has fought against attempts by House Committees and state agencies to force their release.

A copy of the legal complaint in the new case, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, was not immediately available. William Consovoy, a lawyer in Virginia, had filed a motion Thursday morning, asking to represent Trump in New York federal court. He did not immediately provide a comment to CNBC.

In addition to Vance and Mazars, the lawsuit names as a defendant Solomon Shinerock, the prosecutor who is chief of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau in the DA’s office.

Marc Mukasey, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, had no immediate comment. Vance’s office also did not immediately provide a comment.

Vance is investigating whether the Trump Organization falsified records related to two hush-money payoffs facilitated by Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, that went to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

Both women claim to have had sex with Trump years before the election. Trump has denied their allegations.

Cohen, who is serving a three-year federal prison sentence for crimes related to the hush-money payments and other actions, is cooperating with Vance’s investigation.

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