MANHATTAN (CN) — With few known details about the grand jury investigation in New York, President Donald Trump’s legal team has tried to brand it as reheated leftovers from the prosecution of his former fixer Michael Cohen.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance splashed cold water on that theory in a new legal brief to a federal judge on Friday.
“Indeed, many investigations develop and expand over time,” Vance’s general counsel Carey Dunne wrote in a 14-page legal brief.
By design, Vance did not disclose what investigative leads he may be pursuing.
The district attorney hinted earlier this month that he is looking into “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” citing a Wall Street Journal write-up of Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony and two Washington Post articles reporting that the president inflated his assets to lenders and used questionable tactics to sell off his father’s holdings.
Refusing to say outright that a grand jury is looking into those accounts, Vance argues that they illustrate a principle.
“Given that this much information about potentially widespread and protracted criminal conduct was in the public record (and without going into any additional, non-public sources), it is not plausible to speculate, let alone infer, that the grand jury investigation was limited to Cohen’s 2016 payments,” his brief states.
Trump’s legal team bristled at Vance’s indirection earlier this week.
“Perhaps he is citing [the news reports] as evidence of what the scope of the investigation could be,” Trump’s attorney William Consovoy wrote on Monday. “But then they’re irrelevant. This is not a case about theoretical possibilities; the investigation’s actual scope is what matters.”
In a 3-page letter supplementing his brief, Vance says that Trump’s demand for details would turn the grand jury process on its head.
“He complains that this office has never informed him or the public about the full scope of the grand jury’s investigation, or otherwise explained the basis for the requests in the Mazars subpoena,” Vance’s team wrote, referring to the document demands to the firm holding Trump’s tax returns.
“He then asserts that he, and not our office, is in the best position to describe the grand jury’s non-public intentions, and goes on to now demand civil discovery to test his speculation that the grand jury’s focus is indeed as limited as he believes it to be,” the letter continues. “This, of course, is not how a grand jury functions.”
With both sides’ legal briefs now fully submitted, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero must now decide whether he will stray from his ruling last year to allow Vance to pursue his subpoenas as-written, in light of a recent Supreme Court decision.
Rejecting Trump’s claim of absolute immunity, the Supreme Court forced Marrero to consider whether the subpoenas against Trump were overbroad, issued in bad faith or illegally harassing to the president — but the high court did not mandate an outcome.
Trump has argued that Vance’s subpoenas are a “verbatim” copy of the ones issued by Congress, which the Supreme Court also punted to New York for further review.