NEW YORK — A federal judge has stayed for one day a subpoena for President Donald Trump’s tax returns by the Manhattan District Attorney, after the president sued to block his accounting firm from handing over his records in a state criminal probe.
U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero also said he would give the Justice Department until Monday to decide whether to intervene in the case, after the U.S. Attorney in New York filed an unusual last minute brief suggesting it might get involved in the dispute.
Trump sued last week to block Manhattan DA Cy Vance’s subpoena, seeking eight years of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns as part of a wide-ranging investigation into hush-money payments to women who say they had sexual relationships with the president.
At a hearing Wednesday, Judge Marrero asked lawyers for the president and the district attorney to work out an agreement to allow the disclosure of some documents — not including Trump’s tax returns — while the broader dispute is fought out in court.
“Go home, sober up, decompress, come together and see if you can find a way to accommodate concerns of both sides,” he told lawyers Wednesday morning.
He pushed the deadline for compliance with the subpoena, which had been 1 p.m. Wednesday, back by one day. He said he would give federal prosecutors until Monday to decide whether to intervene in the case, and until Wednesday to file an argument if they choose to do so.
Trump is challenging the subpoena on the grounds that as president, he should be immune from any criminal prosecution or investigation.
The DA’s office is seeking the documents from Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm, as part of a probe into a payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in advance of the 2016 election in exchange for her silence about her alleged affair with the president.
Attorneys clashed in court Wednesday over whether the subpoena should be allowed to go forward.
Trump’s lawyer William Consovoy argued that a sitting president cannot be subject to a criminal investigation, whether state or federal.
“This is a right the president holds and a privilege the president holds under the constitution,” he said.
“Fifty states cannot decide that they’re going to investigate the president while he’s trying to serve the country,” he added. “If the court rules the district attorney can do this, then all fifty states can do this … That is untenable.”
Assistant District Attorney Solomon Shinerock countered that the president would not be harmed if the DA’s office gets its hands on his taxes, since the documents will be kept confidential as part of a grand jury investigation.
“Their claims of harassment and bad faith are speculative and unfounded,” he said. “They have no authority for the breathtaking grant of immunity that they seek.”
The DA’s office also argued that that a state court, not a federal court, should be the one to decide if the subpoena can proceed.
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine