Trump must turn over tax returns, federal appeals court rules

Trump's lawsuit to block tax returns subpoena dismissed

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, subpoenaed the tax documents from Trump's accounting firm as part of an investigation into the pre-election payoffs of two women who allegedly had an affair with Trump.

Though the ruling was narrow - the court made clear it wasn't weighing in on whether Trump could be prosecuted or himself required to turn over records - it is still a significant blow to the president.

The ruling by the New York-based second USA circuit court of appeals backed the ability of prosecutors to enforce a subpoena for the returns against accounting firm Mazars. Mr. Trump has fought vigorously to shield his financial records, and the case appears headed to the United States Supreme Court.

The appeals court did not rule on the merits of that claim, but said that because Vance's office was seeking the records from Trump's accounting firm, and not the president, the question of immunity was not a factor. There, a conservative-leaning court may be friendlier to the Trump administration's arguments than the judges they've encountered in the case so far.

The decision is the latest development in a years-long effort to obtain copies of Trump's taxes, which he promised during the campaign to make public after an audit but has since refused to share.

"With the benefit of the district court's well‐articulated opinion, we hold that any presidential immunity from state criminal process does not bar the enforcement of such a subpoena", they added.

Trump has denied the relationships and any wrongdoing connected to the payments.

The president's lawyers have argued that state authorities can not investigate a sitting president and that immunity provides a blanket coverage for his business, family members, and business associates.

Vance has agreed not to enforce the subpoena while Trump petitions the supreme court. Trump attorney William Consovoy drew incredulous laughter during a hearing before the Appeals Court last month when he said the president couldn't be arrested if he actually shot someone on Fifth Ave.

A spokesman for Mr. Vance declined to comment on the ruling. They called the subpoena to Mazars a "bad faith effort to harass the president by obtaining and exposing his private financial information - not a legitimate attempt to enforce NY law". Mr. Trump and other sitting presidents have been the subjects of federal criminal investigations, and local prosecutors like Mr. Vance have not been bound by the policy.

On Oct. 7, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero threw out Trump's lawsuit, calling his claim of immunity "repugnant to the nation's governmental structure and constitutional values". The House then sued the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service in July to try to get access to the tax records.

The panel of judges on the U.S. Second Circuit of Appeals predicted that Trump's lawyers are all but certain to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The president is fighting similar attempts by congressional Democrats to obtain his tax records.



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