Trump or­dered to turn over 8 years of his tax re­turns

Judge Re­jects Trump’s Ar­gu­ment That Sit­ting Pres­i­dents Are Im­mune From Crim­i­nal In­quiries

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Global - Wil­liam K Rash­baum and Ben­jamin Weiser

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.

AFP

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