The day after the Supreme Court’s victory over President Trump, the Manhattan District Attorney came one step closer to obtaining some of the president’s financial records when a lower court judge acted quickly to hear the president’s lawyers’ final arguments.
The federal judge in Manhattan, who led the dispute for the first time, passed a decision on Friday asking lawyers and district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. to inform him whether further action is required in the light of the Supreme Court ruling be.
Judge Victor Marrero has scheduled a hearing on Thursday at which the President̵
The order came earlier than expected and seemed to signal that the judge would act quickly to try to resolve the matter. The Democrat Vance has been in a legal dispute with the President for access to the records for almost a year.
In August last year, Mr. Vance’s office summoned Mr. Trump’s accounting firm for tax documents related to an investigation into the hush money that Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress, said she had had an affair with Mr. Trump, an allegation that he denied. The office asked for returns and other financial documents from 2011.
Mr Trump’s lawyers sued to block the grand jury’s subpoena, saying the president was immune from state criminal investigations while in office, an argument that had never been tried in court. They said local investigations could distract the president from his duties and that Mr. Vance was motivated by political considerations.
The case was brought before the Supreme Court, and on Thursday the court ruled the president 7-2. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote: “No citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the general obligation to provide evidence when required in criminal proceedings.”
Chief Justice Roberts added, however, that Mr. Trump could still object to the scope and relevance of the subpoena in court, and may initiate hearings before Judge Marrero, which could take weeks or longer.
After the verdict was announced, White House spokesman Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that further sub-court proceedings were needed in which Mr. Trump could “present additional arguments, including protection of the constitution, against this frivolous and politically motivated subpoena . ”
A spokesman for Mr. Vance declined to comment on Judge Marrero’s order.
Even if Judge Marrero allowed Mr. Vance’s office to receive some or all of the President’s papers, the documents would not soon – and possibly never – be published. As part of a secret investigation by the Grand Jury, they remained sealed unless an indictment was brought in and presented as evidence at a hearing or trial.
The former lawyer and fixer of the president, Michael D. Cohen, paid Ms. Daniels $ 130,000 to buy her silence during the 2016 presidential campaign, and later pleaded guilty to paying federal campaign funding for his role in this business and one to have made further silence payments.
Mr. Cohen, who is serving a three-year sentence in a federal prison in Otisville, NY, involved the President and said in court that he had acted on the orders of Mr. Trump.
After prosecutors completed their investigations last year, Mr. Vance’s office began to investigate whether New York state law was being violated when Mr. Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, reimbursed Mr. Cohen.
Initially, Mr. Vance’s investigation focused on whether company executives incorrectly booked the reimbursement as a legal expense to cover up the type of payment, the people informed on the matter. In New York, faking a business file can be a crime.
The prosecutors initially dug, interviewed Mr. Cohen in prison, and hired a large jury to investigate and summon records from the Trump organization and potential witnesses.
However, the investigation slowed while Mr. Vance’s office was waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision on whether prosecutors could review Mr. Trump’s financial records.
If the office gets access to Mr. Trump’s taxes, the investigation could extend beyond the possible falsification of records to other potential financial crimes, one of the respondents added.
Little was said publicly about the extent of Mr. Vance’s grand jury investigation. Late last year, while defending the subpoena before Judge Marrero, Mr. Vance’s office outlined the two-page investigation in a major public court file, but this section has been edited in its entirety.
The legal period for filing a crime for submitting false business documents has expired. The office can file a crime until about 2022, five years after the Trump organization has reimbursed Mr. Cohen.
In order to prove a record forgery offense, Mr. Vance’s office would have to demonstrate not only that the recordings were forged, but also with the intent to defraud and commit or hide another crime.
To this end, investigators could focus on possible tax crimes or whether any of the Trump organization’s banks were provided with the wrong information.
Judge Marrero’s short order on Friday gave no clue as to how he could decide on Mr. Trump’s latest attempts to narrow down or block the subpoena.
Last October, in a 75-page statement, Judge Marrero rejected the President’s argument that he was immune to investigations and called it “repugnant to the structure of the government and the constitutional values of the nation.”