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Trump fights releasing tax returns with legal action in NY, Calif.

Updated September 19, 2019 - 9:27 am

President Donald Trump continued his legal fight against making his tax returns public with filings Thursday in New York and California.

In New York, Trump’s attorneys asked a federal judge to block an effort by New York prosecutors to obtain his tax returns.

A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in New York against the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who recently subpoenaed the president’s accounting firm for eight years of Trump’s state and federal returns.

The lawsuit was not immediately made public. But Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow told The Associated Press the lawsuit is intended “to address the significant constitutional issues at stake in this case.”

A message was left with Vance seeking comment. Trump’s accounting firm declined to comment.

The lawsuit opens a new legal front in Trump’s long-running fight to prevent his tax returns from becoming public. It comes as the Republican president already is fighting efforts by Democratic-led congressional committees to obtain his tax returns and other records that could provide a window into his finances.

Earlier court action

Trump and three of his children filed a lawsuit in April seeking to block two House committees from getting records that his longtime lender, Deutsche Bank, has said includes tax returns. And in July, the president sued to block the application of a new state law in New York that could allow a House committee to obtain his state tax returns.

Vance also has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for records related to payments that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen helped arrange to porn actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed she had an affair with Trump. The Democratic district attorney is also pursuing a mortgage fraud case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Vance’s inquiry appears to be covering some of the same ground as federal prosecutors, who spent months probing payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to two women who said they had affairs with Trump: Daniels and model Karen McDougal.

Cohen made one of the payments himself and arranged for American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, to make the other. He pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and other crimes and is serving a three-year sentence in federal prison.

Trump has denied any sexual relationship with either woman and said any payments were personal matters, not campaign expenses.

California filing

In Sacramento, Calif., lawyers for California and the Trump campaign plan to argue in federal court over a state law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns to appear on the primary ball

A hearing was scheduled for 10 a.m. PDT Thursday.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law aimed at forcing President Donald Trump to reveal his tax returns. He has said they are under audit and refuses to release them.

California’s primary is scheduled for March 2020, and candidates will have to turn over five years of tax returns to the state by November to be on the ballot.

Trump’s campaign wants a federal judge to halt the law from taking effect while the legal case plays out. It argues the law violates the Constitution by adding another requirement to run for president.

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