NEW YORK >> A federal judge today cleared the way for Manhattan’s top prosecutor to get President Donald Trump’s tax returns, rejecting a last-ditch attempt by his lawyers to block a subpoena issued to his accounting firm.
Trump’s lawyers immediately appealed U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero’s decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
Marrero’s ruling echoed his prior decision in the case that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last month. The high court had returned the case to Marrero to give Trump’s lawyers a chance to raise other concerns about the subpoena issued by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
Vance has been seeking Trump’s tax returns from the president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, for more than a year, since Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, told Congress that the president had misled tax officials, insurers and business associated about the value of his assets.
Trump’s lawyers said that the request for tax records dating back to 2011 was retaliatory after the president’s company, the Trump Organization, disputed the scope of a subpoena seeking records from June 1, 2015, through Sept. 20, 2018.
That time span pertains to an investigation related to payoffs to two women, including porn actress Stormy Daniels, to keep them quiet during the 2016 presidential campaign about alleged extramarital affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the affairs.
Messages seeking comment on the ruling were left with Trump’s lawyer. A spokesperson for Vance’s office declined comment.
Trump, through his lawyers, has argued that the subpoena was issued in bad faith, might have been politically motivated and amounted to harassment of him, especially since the wording mimicked the language in congressional subpoenas.
Vance’s attorneys said they were entitled to extensive records to aid a “complex financial investigation” and they cited in their papers public reports of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”
In July, the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s arguments that he can’t even be investigated, let alone charged with any crime, while he is in office. But the court left open the prospect that Trump could make new arguments in a bid to keep the subpoena from being enforced.
Vance isn’t the only one pursuing Trump’s financial records, though his office’s request specifically included the president’s taxes. Congress has also tried to access Trump’s financial records. Also in July, the Supreme Court kept a hold on banking and other documents about Trump, family members and his businesses that Congress has been seeking for over a year and returned the case to a lower court.
Today’s appeal makes it unlikely investigators will get their hands on Trump’s financial records before November’s presidential election.
Trump is the only president in modern times who has refused to make his tax returns public, and before he was elected he promised to release them.