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Manhattan DA cites reports of "protracted criminal conduct" at Trump Organization in bid for records

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Washington — Lawyers for Manhattan's chief prosecutor, who is fighting to obtain troves of President Trump's tax returns and business records, defended the scope of his office's subpoena for the documents in a new filing Monday, referencing public reports "of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization."

In the filing with the federal district court in New York City, where the dispute between Mr. Trump and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance was sent following a Supreme Court ruling last month, New York prosecutors suggested the grand jury investigation into Mr. Trump and his business dealings extends beyond hush-money payments made to an adult film actress and model before the 2016 presidential election. The two women claim that they had affairs with Mr. Trump more than a decade ago, which he denies.

In rebutting an argument from Mr. Trump that the subpoena to Mazars USA, his longtime accounting firm, is too broad, prosecutors with the district attorney's office said it "rests on the false premise" that the probe is limited to the payments funneled through Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump's former personal attorney, to Stormy Daniels, the actress, and Karen McDougal, the model.

Mr. Trump, they wrote, "goes so far as to declare that these payments — and these payments alone — are what the 'grand jury claims to be investigating,' and thus the Mazars subpoena is overbroad because it seeks documents dating back to 2011. But this Court is already aware that this assertion is fatally undermined by undisputed information in the public record."

The prosecutors go on to say that public reporting shows the district attorney's office "had a valid basis for requesting each category and timeframe of document listed in the Mazars subpoena."

"As this reporting makes clear, at the time the Mazars subpoena was issued, there were public allegations of criminal activity at [Trump's] New York County-based Trump Organization dating back over a decade," the New York prosecutors wrote. 

In a footnote, Vance's lawyers cited a March 2019 article in the Washington Post that detailed alleged efforts by Mr. Trump to inflate his net worth to financial institutions, as well as a February 2019 report in the Wall Street Journal about the $130,000 payment to Daniels. The filing from New York prosecutors also cited a third article from the Washington Post, published in October 2018, about the president's expansion of his real estate empire.

"This possible criminal activity occurred within the applicable statutes of limitations, particularly if the transactions involved a continuing pattern of conduct," the New York prosecutors said, adding that the reports detail "possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization."

Vance's attorneys are urging the court to dismiss the president's amended lawsuit challenging the grand jury subpoena for eight years of his accounting and personal records.

Mr. Trump's "recycled claims rest on unsupported and speculative assertions — not the sort of factual allegations that can overcome the legal presumptions of regularity," the prosecutors wrote.

The Supreme Court sent the dispute between Mr. Trump and Vance back to the lower court last month in a ruling that rejected the president's claim of "absolute immunity" from state criminal subpoenas. 

In its amended lawsuit, the president's lawyers again claim that the subpoena to Mazars was issued in bad faith and is overbroad.

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