A New York City prosecutor fighting to get US President Donald Trump's tax returns has told a judge he was justified in demanding them because of public reports of "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organisation".
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. is seeking eight years of the Republican president's personal and corporate tax records, but has disclosed little about what prompted him to request the records, other than part of the investigation related to pay-offs to two women to keep them quiet about alleged affairs with Trump.
In a court filing on Monday, lawyers for Vance said the president wasn't entitled to know the exact nature of the grand jury investigation.
They noted, though, that at the time the subpoena for the tax filings was issued to Trump's accountants, "there were public allegations of possible criminal activity" at the president's company "dating back over a decade".
The lawyers also cited reports of past investigations by New York regulators into whether the conduct described by Cohen amounted to bank fraud.
"These reports describe transactions involving individual and corporate actors based in New York County, but whose conduct at times extended beyond New York's borders. This possible criminal activity occurred within the applicable statutes of limitations, particularly if the transactions involved a continuing pattern of conduct," the lawyers said.
Trump's legal team has argued that the subpoena for his tax filings was issued in bad faith and amounted to harassment of the president.
The Supreme Court last month rejected claims by Trump's lawyers that the president could not be criminally investigated while he was in office.
Vance's lawyers urged US District Judge Victor Marrero to swiftly reject Trump's further arguments that the subpoenas were improper, saying the baseless claims were threatening the investigation.
"Every day that goes by is another day Plaintiff effectively achieves the 'temporary absolute immunity' that was rejected by this Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court," Vance's lawyers said.
Marrero has scheduled arguments to be fully submitted by mid-August.