Trump must turn over eight years of tax returns, appeals court rules

A United States appeals court ruled on Monday that President Donald Trump must release eight years of tax returns, dealing a blow to his attempts to keep his personal earnings private.

The Manhattan district attorney's office subpoenaed eight years of Trump's corporate and personal taxes as part of an investigation into whether the Trump Organization violated NY laws by fabricating business records connected to hush-money payments made to women who have alleged affairs with the president.

"The decision of the Second Circuit will be taken to the Supreme Court".

In early October, the Department of Justice said in a court filing that it supports President Trump's suit looking for relief from a subpoena issued by Manhattan Attorney General Cyrus Vance over Trump's tax returns. His lawyers have argued that Trump is immune from state prosecutions and that Vance does not need eight years of Trump's tax returns in order to examine whether any laws were broken by the 2016 payments.

The U.S. Supreme Court will likely have the last word on whether Trump can shield himself from Vance's efforts to explore the president's financial records since 2011, including his tax returns.

On Monday, Sekulow added: "The issue raised in this case goes to the heart of our Republic". The ruling prompted Mr. Trump's appeal to the 2nd Circuit. Trump, who built a real estate empire with his New York-based business before becoming president, also faces an impeachment inquiry in the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives.

The appeals court ruling gives a green light, in theory, for investigators to obtain the President's tax returns, but Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow said the President will continue his appeal.

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Mr. Trump's lawyers sued to block the subpoena, writing that the criminal investigation of the president was unconstitutional.

"Even assuming, without deciding, that a formal criminal charge against the President carries a stigma too great for the Constitution to tolerate, we can not conclude that mere investigation is so debilitating", the court said, adding that such a decision would be hard to square with legal precedents from investigations into President Richard Nixon.

The ruling requires the president's accounting firm to hand over the documents requested by the district attorney's office. "A thing like this has never happened to any President before".

But the tax returns are not likely to be handed over soon.

Monday's decision, while a major defeat for the President, only partially agreed with the district court judge's previous decision in the case siding with Vance.

Two judges have already ruled against Trump in other federal cases involving his financial records, and the president has appealed those decisions.

President Trump "has not persuasively explained why, if executive privilege did not preclude enforcement of the subpoena issued in Nixon, the Mazars subpoena must be enjoined despite seeking no privileged information and bearing no relation to the president's performance of his official functions", the court said.

  • Sonia Alvarado