Appeals court: President Trump must turn over taxes to prosecutor

Politics

President Donald Trump stands on the balcony outside of the Blue Room as returns to the White House Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Washington, after leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md. A federal appeals court says Trump’s accountant must turn over his tax records to a New York state prosecutor. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled Wednesday, Oct. 7. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — President Donald Trump’s accountant must turn over his tax records to a New York state prosecutor, an appeals court ruled Wednesday in a decision that likely sets up a second trip to the U.S. Supreme Court over the issue.

In a 3-0 decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said in a written decision that a stay of a lower-court decision will remain in effect, as agreed to by the parties, so Trump’s lawyers can appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump has signaled he would appeal to the Supreme Court if he lost.

A district court judge had rejected their renewed efforts to invalidate a subpoena that the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. issued to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA.

Vance’s probe began more than two years ago and has partly focused on payoffs that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen paid before the 2016 election to two women who alleged extramarital affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the affairs.

Vance, Jr. is seeking eight years of the Republican president’s personal and corporate tax records, but has disclosed little about what prompted him to request the records. In one recent court filing, Vance’s lawyers have said he was justified in demanding them because of public reports of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”

A Justice Department spokesperson said the department was reviewing the ruling.

The Supreme Court in July ruled 7-2 against the president, rejecting Trump’s arguments that he can’t even be investigated, let alone charged with any crime, while he is in office. But the court said Trump can challenge the subpoena on other grounds like anyone else who receives a subpoena.

The likelihood that the taxes would be released was unlikely to be resolved before the November election, especially since the high court is down to eight justices after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Through his lawyers, Trump argued that the subpoena for his personal and corporate tax returns was overly broad and politically motivated, issued in bad faith, and amounted to harassment of him, especially since the wording copied the language in congressional subpoenas. The president also states the subpoenas are a “fishing expedition” targeting his business interests around the world, exceeding Vance’s authority and jurisdiction.

In its decision, the 2nd Circuit rejected all of those arguments.

“We hold that none of the President’s allegations, taken together or separately, are sufficient to raise a plausible inference that the subpoena was issued ‘out of malice or an intent to harass,’” the appeals court said.

It also said there was “no logic” to the suggestion that the subpoena was irrelevant for legitimate law enforcement purposes just because a congressional committee thought them relevant to its own purposes.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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