Law & the Courts

Judge Rules Trump Must Hand Over Tax Returns to Manhattan DA

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, September 16, 2019. (Al Drago/Reuters)

Federal judge Victor Marrero ruled on Monday that the Manhattan district attorney’s office could subpoena eight years of President Trump’s tax returns, rejecting the president’s broad defense that the Constitution effectively prohibits all criminal inquiries into sitting presidents.

In the 75-page decision, Marrero called Trump’s defense “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values” and denied the “categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process.”

District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.’s office issued a subpoena for the tax returns last week as part of an investigation into former Trump attorney Michael D. Cohen’s hush-money payment to pornographer Stormy Daniels.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison in December 2018 for evasion and campaign-finance law violations related to the payment. While federal prosecutors have “effectively concluded” their investigation into the hush-money payment, Vance’s office is exploring whether the reimbursements also violated any New York laws.

Last week, Justice Department lawyers asked Marrero to temporarily block the subpoena while the court examines the constitutionality of Trump’s defense. According to Justice Department guidelines, federal prosecutors are barred from charging a sitting president with a crime, but the Constitution does not explicitly answer the issue, and the Supreme Court has never ruled definitively on the subject.

Trump’s defense team has called the actions of Vance, a Democrat, politically motivated. The subpoena is to Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm, for federal and state tax returns for both the president and his company, dating back to 2011.

The announcement is not the first instance of controversy surrounding President Trump’s tax returns. In May, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin sent a letter to House Democrats rejecting a request for Trump’s personal and business income tax returns. Last week, an IRS whistleblower filed a complaint over potential mismanagement by Treasury officials in the annual audit of the president and vice president’s taxes.

Update: 2:45 p.m.

A federal appeals court has granted Trump a temporary stay of decision, and he will not have to turn over his tax returns to the Manhattan D.A.’s office.

Most Popular

White House

More Evidence the Guardrails Are Gone

At the end of last month, just as the news of the Ukraine scandal started dominating the news cycle, I argued that we're seeing evidence that the guardrails that staff had placed around Donald Trump's worst instincts were in the process of breaking down. When Trump's staff was at its best, it was possible to draw ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Honest

If you want to run for office, political consultants will hammer away at one point: Tell stories. People respond to stories. We’ve been a story-telling species since our fur-clad ancestors gathered around campfires. Don’t cite statistics. No one can remember statistics. Make it human. Make it relatable. ... Read More
National Review


Today is my last day at National Review. It's an incredibly bittersweet moment. While I've only worked full-time since May, 2015, I've contributed posts and pieces for over fifteen years. NR was the first national platform to publish my work, and now -- thousands of posts and more than a million words later -- I ... Read More
Economy & Business

Andrew Yang, Snake Oil Salesman

Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur and gadfly, has definitely cleared the bar for a successful cause candidate. Not only has he exceeded expectations for his polling and fundraising, not only has he developed a cult following, not only has he got people talking about his signature idea, the universal basic ... Read More

Is America Becoming Sinicized?

A little over 40 years ago, Chinese Communist strongman and reformer Deng Xiaoping began 15 years of sweeping economic reforms. They were designed to end the disastrous, even murderous planned economy of Mao Zedong, who died in 1976. The results of Deng’s revolution astonished the world. In four decades, ... Read More