A federal judge in New York ruled on Monday that President Donald Trump is not immune from criminal investigations and must therefore turn over his tax returns to the Manhattan district attorney’s office. An appeals court has temporarily blocked that order, and it will now weigh the merits of the arguments.
Trump’s lawyers had argued before Judge Victor Marrero that Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, could not subpoena eight years of Trump’s tax returns, as a sitting president is immune from criminal inquiries. The Justice Department has declared that the Constitution does protect sitting presidents temporarily from criminal charges by federal prosecutors—but, as Vance’s office noted, that ruling did not apply to criminal investigations or to local prosecutors, such as the Manhattan district attorney.
Trump’s lawyers appealed Marrero’s decision to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the court agreed to block the order until it can weigh the arguments. Even if Trump is forced to turn over his tax returns, they would be covered by grand jury secrecy rules and only made public if the case went to trial.
Vance’s office subpoenaed Trump’s accounting firm in August for the president’s personal and corporate tax returns from 2011 to the present. The district attorney’s office is looking into any possible violation of New York state laws by Trump and his company over hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Michael Cohen is currently in prison in part because of his role in the payments.
Trump’s lawyers then filed a lawsuit meant to stop the subpoena, but Marrero on Monday dismissed the challenge. In his 75-page decision, Marrero called Trump’s claim of “virtually limitless” immunity “repugnant to the nation’s fundamental structure and constitutional values.”
“The Radical Left Democrats have failed on all fronts, so now they are pushing local New York City and State Democrat prosecutors to go get President Trump,” Trump tweeted Monday morning. “A thing like this has never happened to any President before. Not even close!”