Judge re­jects Trump chal­lenge to re­lease of his tax re­turns

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Front Page - By Larry Neumeis­ter

NEW YORK >> A fed­eral judge Mon­day em­phat­i­cally re­jected Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s chal­lenge to the re­lease of his tax re­turns to New York pros­e­cu­tors, say­ing the pres­i­dent’s broad claim of im­mu­nity from all crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions is at odds with the Con­sti­tu­tion. But an ap­peals court blocked any han­dover of the records for now.

At is­sue is a re­quest from Man­hat­tan Dis­trict At­tor­ney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. that Trump’s ac­count­ing firm turn over eight years’ worth of his busi­ness and per­sonal tax re­turns for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the pay­ment of hush money to two women who claimed to have had af­fairs with the pres­i­dent.

U. S. Dis­trict Judge Vic­tor Mar­rero turned down Trump’s at­tempt to keep the records un­der wraps. The pres­i­dent’s lawyers im­me­di­ately ap­pealed to the 2nd U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals, which granted a stay of the judge’s rul­ing pend­ing an ex­pe­dited re­view.

“The Rad­i­cal Left Democrats have failed on all fronts,” Trump fumed on Twit­ter, “so now they are push­ing lo­cal New York City and State Demo­crat

pros­e­cu­tors to go get Pres­i­dent Trump. A thing like this has never hap­pened to any Pres­i­dent be­fore. Not even close!”

The crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion in New York is un­fold­ing with Trump al­ready un­der siege on Capi­tol Hill from a fast-mov­ing im­peach­ment drive set off by his at­tempts to get Ukraine’s leader to in­ves­ti­gate his po­lit­i­cal ri­val Joe Bi­den. The judge’s rul­ing marked the lat­est in a string of set­backs for the pres­i­dent in the past cou­ple of weeks.

Trump’s lawyers have said that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion led by Vance, a Demo­crat, is po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated and that the re­quest for his tax records should be stopped be­cause he is im­mune from any crim­i­nal probe as long as he is pres­i­dent.

But the judge called Trump’s claim of broad im­mu­nity “ex­tra­or­di­nary” and “an over­reach of ex­ec­u­tive power.”

“As the court reads it, pres­i­den­tial im­mu­nity would stretch to cover every phase of crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings, in­clud­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions, grand jury pro­ceed­ings and sub­poe­nas, in­dict­ment, pros­e­cu­tion, ar­rest, trial, con­vic­tion, and in­car­cer­a­tion,” Mar­rero wrote. “That con­sti­tu­tional pro­tec­tion pre­sum­ably would en­com­pass any con­duct, at any time, in any fo­rum, whether fed­eral or state, and whether the Pres­i­dent acted alone or in con­cert with other in­di­vid­u­als.”

The judge said he couldn’t ac­cept that le­gal view, “es­pe­cially in the light of the fun­da­men­tal con­cerns over ex­ces­sive ar­ro­ga­tion of power” that led the found­ing fa­thers to cre­ate a bal­ance of power among the three branches of gov­ern­ment.

In a state­ment, Trump per­sonal lawyer Jay Seku­low said only that he was pleased by the ap­peals court stay.

Trump has stead­fastly re­fused to make his tax re­turns pub­lic, break­ing from a tra­di­tion set by pres­i­dents and White House can­di­dates decades ago. He has also gone to court to fight House sub­poe­nas is­sued to his bank for var­i­ous per­sonal fi­nan­cial records, in­clud­ing his tax re­turns. That dis­pute is also be­fore the fed­eral ap­peals court.

In yet an­other ef­fort to pry loose Trump’s tax records, Cal­i­for­nia re­cently passed a law re­quir­ing can­di­dates for pres­i­dent or gov­er­nor to turn over their re­turns dat­ing back five years, or else they can­not ap­pear on the state’s pri­mary bal­lot. A fed­eral judge blocked the law this month, say­ing it is prob­a­bly un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Vance be­gan his probe af­ter fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in New York com­pleted their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into pay­ments that Trump’s for­mer per­sonal lawyer, Michael Co­hen, ar­ranged to be made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Play­boy model Karen McDou­gal to keep them silent dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial race. The Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion later re­im­bursed Co­hen.

Co­hen is serv­ing a three- year prison sen­tence for crimes that in­cluded cam­paign fi­nance vi­o­la­tions in con­nec­tion with the hush money.

Trump was never charged, though pros­e­cu­tors said pub­licly that he was aware of and di­rected the il­le­gal pay­ments. Jus­tice De­part­ment pol­icy has long been that sit­ting pres­i­dents can­not be charged crim­i­nally.

Grand jury pro­ceed­ings and records in New York are se­cret. If Vance gains ac­cess to Trump’s re­turns through a grand jury in­ves­ti­ga­tion, that doesn’t mean their con­tents will be dis­closed pub­licly.

It is un­clear what Trump’s re­turns might have to do with the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

CAROLYN KASTER

FILE - In this Fri­day, Oct. 4, 2019 file photo, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing the Young Black Lead­er­ship Sum­mit at the White House in Wash­ing­ton. On Mon­day, Oct. 7 Judge Vic­tor Mar­rero re­jected Trump’s chal­lenge to the re­lease of his tax re­turns for a New York state crim­i­nal probe. The re­turns had been sought by Man­hat­tan Dis­trict At­tor­ney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. His of­fice is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s in­volve­ment in buy­ing the si­lence of two women who claimed to have had af­fairs with the pres­i­dent.

RICK BOWMER

FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2018, file photo, Man­hat­tan Dis­trict At­tor­ney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. speaks dur­ing a dis­cus­sion in Salt Lake City. A fed­eral judge has re­jected Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s chal­lenge to the re­lease of his tax re­turns for a New York state crim­i­nal probe. The re­turns had been sought by Vance.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.