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Fight over Trump tax returns goes to appeals court — again

President Donald Trump speaks during a Latinos for Trump Coalition roundtable meeting at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino on Sept. 13, 2020, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments Friday in President Donald Trump’s long-running fight to prevent a top New York prosecutor from getting his tax returns.

Trump’s lawyers appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a district court judge last month rejected their renewed efforts to invalidate a subpoena that the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. issued to Trump’s accounting firm.

A temporary restraining order remains in effect, preventing any tax records from being turned over at least until the latest appeal is decided. Trump has said he expects the case to return to the Supreme Court, making it unlikely the dispute will be resolved before the November election.

The Supreme Court in July ruled that the presidency in and of itself doesn’t shield Trump from the investigation, prompting Trump’s lawyers to raise new objections and start the appellate process over again.

With its decision, the Supreme Court returned the case to U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan so Trump’s lawyers could seek to block the subpoena on other grounds.

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Trump’s lawyers contend the subpoena was issued in bad faith, overly broad, might have been politically motivated and amounted to harassment. Marrero rejected those claims, leading to the appeal being heard Friday.

Trump has called Vance’s investigation “a fishing expedition” and “a continuation of the witch hunt — the greatest witch hunt in history.”

Vance, a Democrat, began seeking the Republican president’s tax returns from his longtime accounting firm over a year ago, after Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Congress that the president had misled tax officials, insurers and business associates about the value of his assets.

Vance’s office argued in court papers this week that there’s “a mountainous record” of public allegations of misconduct to support its efforts to obtain Trump’s tax returns, such as news reports alleging Trump or his companies inflated or minimized the value of assets for business and tax purposes.

Even if Vance does get Trump’s tax records, those would be part of a confidential grand jury investigation and not automatically be made public.

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