The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a temporary stay to September 25, when the court will hear oral argument in Donald Trump’s never-ending attempt to prevent his financial documents in the possession of his accountant, Mazars USA, from being produced to the Manhattan D.A., Cyrus Vance, Jr.
The Washington Post reports, Court temporarily blocks enforcement of subpoena for Trump’s tax records:
A federal appeals court Tuesday blocked the immediate release of President Trump’s tax returns and other financial records to the Manhattan district attorney — a temporary win for the president in his protracted legal battle to prevent the local prosecutor’s office from obtaining a trove of documents in connection with his ongoing criminal probe.
Tuesday’s order establishes the timeline for Trump’s broader appeal of a lower-court ruling last month that found the district attorney is entitled to request Trump’s personal financial records from his accounting firm. Arguments are set for Sept. 25, and the court’s order will remain active pending the outcome of that hearing, it said in announcing the decision.
[At oral argument Tuesday], Judge John Walker Jr. [appointed to the court in 1989], one of panel’s three judges, asked a lawyer for Vance’s office how one would determine whether its request for Trump’s records is in fact “very broad and might engage in some fishing” expedition.
“It seems to me it’s really very broad when you’re asking for activities in New York, Dubai and so forth,” the judge said.
Carey Dunne, general counsel for Vance, said the district attorney’s grand-jury investigation of Trump’s business activities is secret and should remain so but suggested it was common for Vance’s team to make such wide-reaching requests.
“There’s nothing unusual about an office like ours asking for information about out-of-state or foreign transactions,” Dunne told the panel, as many major banks and financial institutions are located in New York. “The company at the center has headquarters in Manhattan; that’s why we have jurisdiction,” he added, apparently referring to the Trump Organization.
The district attorney’s office, citing impending statutes of limitations that risk hindering its pursuit of criminal charges if warranted, has sought expedited review from the courts. Vance’s team has argued that Trump’s new arguments are a delay tactic and that he’s attempting to impede its investigation from moving forward.
During oral argument Tuesday morning, the president’s lawyer William Consovoy simply repeated previous arguments, i.e., that “irreparable harm” for Trump would result should the subpoena be enforced before the case is fully litigated and the appeals process is exhausted.
Cyrus Vance had already agreed not to enforce the subpoena before the Second Circuit hears the merits of this case, rendering this argument moot. Nevertheless, the court granted a temporary stay to the hearing date on September 25, and pending the outcome of the decision.
It should be a no brainer that this Second Circuit panel of judges should order the subpoena enforced based upon the trial court record. Trump would no doubt appeal to the full en banc panel, and/or the U.S. Supreme Court, which should deny the petition because the U.S. Supreme Court in its opinion in June already rejected the argument that Trump would suffer “irreparable harm” if the court orders the subpoena enforced. Given the statute of limitations issue, the Second Circuit should rule quickly.
Ultimately, even if Vance’s subpoena is enforced and the district attorney’s office receives Trump’s financial records, there is no guarantee the public will see them because the documents would be subject to secrecy rules governing grand-jury investigations. It’s possible they might emerge as evidence should the district attorney move to charge someone with a crime.
Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, has said it would comply with its legal obligations.
The grand jury is likely to get the financial documents in this case. How long it takes prosecutors to review the documents and to present a case to the grand jury remains an open question. The public will only learn what is in those documents based upon the charges in any indictment.