Law & the Courts

Judge Rules Trump Must Turn Over Tax Returns to Manhattan DA

President Donald Trump pauses as he addresses a re-election campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., June 20, 2020. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

A federal judge on Thursday rejected President Trump’s most recent effort to stop the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining his tax returns, despite the president’s argument that the prosecutor’s grand jury subpoena was “wildly overbroad” and issued in bad faith. 

The ruling by District Judge Victor Marrero follows a decision by the Supreme Court last month that rejected Trump’s assertion that presidents are entitled to absolute immunity from criminal probes. After the Court’s ruling in July, Trump renewed his efforts to block the subpoena, arguing that it was overbroad and seeking information far beyond the jurisdiction of a local district attorney.   

“That notion, applied as so robustly proclaimed by the president’s advocates, is as unprecedented and far-reaching as it is perilous to the rule of law and other bedrock constitutional principles on which this country was founded and by which it continues to be governed,” Marrero wrote.

Cyrus Vance Jr., the Democratic district attorney for Manhattan, has been investigating alleged hush-money payments made prior to the 2016 election to two women who said they had affairs with Trump. A legal battle ensued after Vance obtained a grand jury subpoena for Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA. 

Vance is seeking eight years of Trump’s financial documents, including his personal and corporate tax returns. His office revealed last month that it was also investigating “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”

The judge rejected the president’s claim that Vance’s investigation was a politically motivated witch hunt, saying in his decision that “established judicial process” did not “automatically transform into an incidence of incapacitating harassment and ill-will merely because the proceedings potentially may implicate the president.”

In response to Thursday’s ruling, Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow said, “We will be filing a stay and an appeal.”

If the president appeals the decision, the case could return to the Supreme Court.

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