President Donald Trump must release tax returns to Manhattan DA, judge rules

In a 75-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero rejected the President's petition on the basis that it asserts an "extraordinary claim" of presidential immunity from virtually all criminal proceedings. "The expansive notion of constitutional immunity invoked here to shield the president from judicial process would constitute an overreach of executive power".

"The Court can not square a vision of presidential immunity that would place the President above the law", added the US District Court judge for the Southern District of NY.

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 Manhattan district attorney's subpoena was part of a broader investigation into whether the Trump Organization and Trump broke NY state laws connected to hush-money payments made to women who alleged affairs with Trump.

Trump in a tweet Monday blamed what he called "radical left Democrats" for "pushing local New York City and State Democrat prosecutors to go get President Trump".

Two committees of the Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives have separately subpoenaed Deutsche Bank AG for Trump's financial records, which include tax returns.

Marrero's rejection of the president's claim, in addition to the ruling itself, garnered attention on social media.

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Unfortunately, the state's argument seems ultimately to be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has far more important matters to decide.

Last week, Justice Department lawyers asked Marrero to temporarily block the subpoena while the court examines the constitutionality of Trump's defense. Justice Department policy has always been that sitting presidents can not be charged criminally.

I don't think presidential candidates should be compelled to release their tax returns in order to run for office; instead, I'd leave it to voters to decide whether to disqualify someone who refuses to release his or her returns. If Vance gains access to Trump's returns through a grand jury investigation, that doesn't mean that their contents will be disclosed publicly.

Mr. Vance's prosecutors have said the tax returns would remain confidential because they are part of a grand-jury proceeding. He pleaded guilty in November to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and other crimes and is serving a three-year sentence.

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano on Trump's legal team filing emergency appeal. Justice Department policy has always been that sitting presidents can not be charged criminally.

Marrero also rejected other arguments made by Trump's counsel, including that the lawsuit should be considered in federal court, rather than state. That question might get lost in the acute issues surrounding Donald Trump's challenge to a subpoena for his tax records. The latter is likely what the founders had in mind for acts while in office, but nothing in the Constitution sets up that kind of immunity for potential criminal acts that took place outside of it.

  • Sonia Alvarado