Federal judge throws out Trump's attempt to avoid releasing tax returns
President Donald Trump speaks to the media on the White House lawn before embarking on a West Coast swing in Washington, DC, on 16 September 2019 (reissued 07 October 2019). A US federal judge on 07 October 2019 dismissed a lawsuit by President Trump's lawyers aimed at blocking the Manhattan district attorney office's subpoena for eight years of Trump's tax returns. EFE/EPA/JIM LO SCALZO
President Donald Trump participates a briefing on Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office in Washington, DC, on 04 September 2019 (reissued 07 October 2019). A US federal judge on 07 October 2019 dismissed a lawsuit by President Trump's lawyers aimed at blocking the Manhattan district attorney office's subpoena for eight years of Trump's tax returns. EFE/EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
New York, Oct 7 (efe-epa).- A federal judge in New York on Monday rejected President Donald Trump's lawsuit attempting to block having to turn over his tax returns after the Manhattan district attorney's office sought to obtain those documents as part of an investigation into hush money payments during the 2016 campaign.
US District Judge Victor Marrero rejected Trump's argument that being president renders him immune to investigation by prosecutors for any purpose whatsoever.
In his 75-page ruling, Marrero called such a claim "extraordinary" and wrote, "This Court cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process," adding that Trump's claim of immunity was an abuse of "executive power."
Marrero wrote in his ruling that although allowing presidents to be subjected to some kinds of criminal proceedings could hinder them from fully carrying out their duties, he rejected Trump's claim of "absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind."
"As the Court reads it, presidential immunity would stretch to cover every phase of criminal proceedings," Marrero wrote. "The constitutional dimensions of the presidential shield from judicial process are virtually limitless."
Trump's longstanding accountants at Mazars USA on Monday appealed the ruling, which comes after in August the district attorney issued a subpoena for the firm to hand over the president's personal and corporate tax returns for the past eight years, whereupon the president filed a lawsuit seeking to block that subpoena.
The district attorney's office requested the documents from Mazars as part of its investigation into secret payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels, taking New York state laws into account.
After the filing of the appeal by the Trump team, the appeals court issued a temporary stay pending review by a three-judge court panel.
Trump, meanwhile, took to Twitter to remark that Democrats "have failed on all fronts, so now they are pushing local New York City and State Democratic prosecutors to go get President Trump. A thing like this has never happened to any President before. Not even close!"
Marrero's ruling opens the possibility that Mazars will have to turn over the tax returns to the district attorney, but the emergency appeal by Trump's lawyers means that there will be additional delays in the case.
Trump is the first president since Gerald Ford, who governed from 1974-1977, who has not published his tax return each year, a tradition that his predecessors considered part of their public duty to fiscal transparency and proper accounting.