Trump ordered to turn over 8 years of his tax returns
Judge Rejects Trump’s Argument That Sitting Presidents Are Immune From Criminal Inquiries
Afederal judge on Monday rejected a bold argument from President Donald Trump that sitting presidents are immune from criminal investigations, a ruling that allowed the Manhattan district attorney’s office to move forward with a subpoena seeking eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax returns. Lawyers for Trump quickly told the court they would appeal the ruling from Judge Victor Marrero of Manhattan federal court. An appeal is likely to mean further delays.
In a 75-page ruling, Judge Marrero called the president’s argument “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.” Presidents, their families and businesses are not above the law, the judge wrote.
The judge’s decision came a little more than a month after the Manhattan district attorney subpoenaed Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for his personal and corporate returns dating to 2011. The demand touched off a legal showdown that raised new constitutional questions and drew in the justice department, which supported the president’s request to delay enforcement of the subpoena.
The president’s lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokesJudge calls president’s argument ‘repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values’. He wrote that presidents, their families and businesses are not above the law
man for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R Vance Jr, declined to comment.
Vance’s office has been investigating whether any New York State laws were broken when Trump and his company reimbursed the president’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, for payments he made in the run-up to the 2016 election to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, who had said she had an affair with Trump. Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels.
Trump’s lawyers sued last month to block the subpoena, arguing that the Constitution effectively makes sitting presidents immune from all criminal inquiries until they leave the White House. The lawyers acknowledged that their argument had not been tested in courts, but said the release of the president’s tax returns would cause him “irreparable harm.”
Vance’s office asked Judge Marrero to dismiss Trump’s suit, saying a grand jury had a right to “pursue its probe free from interference and litigious delay” and rejecting his claim to blanket immunity. The judge was appointed by President Bill Clinton. Trump’s lawyers have called the probe by Vance, a Democrat, politically motivated. Vance has accused the president and his team of trying to run out the clock on the investigation.
Last week, lawyers with Trump’s justice department jumped into the fray, asking the judge to temporarily block the subpoena while the court takes time to consider the “significant constitutional issues” in the case.
The justice department, led by Attorney General William P Barr, did not say whether it agreed with Trump’s position that presidents cannot be investigated. But, citing the constitutional questions, the department said it wanted to provide its views.
The Constitution does not explicitly say whether presidents can be charged with a crime while in office, and the Supreme Court has not answered the question. The president and his lawyers have fought vigorously to shield his tax returns, which Trump said during the 2016 campaign that he would make public but has since refused to disclose.