The Jury Talks Back

10/7/2019

Federal Judge: Trump Will Have to Disclose His Tax Returns to Manhattan D.A.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:54 am

The New York Times reports:

A federal judge on Monday rejected a bold argument from President Trump that sitting presidents are immune from criminal investigations, a ruling that allowed the Manhattan district attorney’s office to move forward with a subpoena seeking eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax returns.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump quickly told the court they would appeal the ruling from Judge Victor Marrero of Manhattan federal court. An appeal is likely to mean further delays.

In a 75-page ruling, Judge Marrero called the president’s argument “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.” Presidents, their families and businesses are not above the law, the judge wrote.

The office is investigating the Stormy Daniels payoff. According to the court, if Trump’s assertion of privilege were accepted, it would mean that as President, he and all his business affiliates, associates, and relatives would be immune from the application of any kind of criminal investigative tool looking into private as well as personal matters, before and during his tenure in office. Oddly, the Southern District of New York had weighed in to request that the judge delay his decision to allow them to give their view, saying that the stay would “prevent irreparable harm to the President’s asserted constitutional interest in not having his records subjected to state criminal compulsory process in these circumstances, while the District Attorney has identified no prejudice from a short delay to this discrete portion of the grand jury investigation at issue.”

Oh, Bill Barr. You have taken the SDNY’s collective testicles and placed them in a drawer in your desk. Well done, sir, well done.

“Irreparable harm” how, by the way? Releasing the tax records while they are (supposedly) under the audit that will apparently last the rest of Trump’s natural life? Have we forgotten that he promised to release them to the public (not a secret grand jury as here) once the phantom audits were done?

Anyway. The judge’s ruling is here. I found this part eye-opening:

Trump Lengthy Incarceration

The judge’s hypothetical reference to the President’s potential “lengthy incarceration” amused me. I couldn’t help but picture Marco Rubio standing in the well of the U.S. Senate deliberating whether to remove Trump from office as Trump serves a “lengthy incarceration” for New York State criminal offenses. After quoting Josh Hawley’s and Ted Cruz’s fiery speeches supporting Trump, Liddle’ Marco then meekly quotes the Constitution, grimaces, and turns to an aide. The hot mic captures his whispered question: “Does Trump still have his smartphone in prison? The one with the Twitter app?”

After being told guards can be bribed to allow such devices, Marco is a nay on removal.

There will still be litigation to come, but the judge’s ruling is pretty convincing. This is not the kind of thing federal courts get involved with. It will be fascinating to see what position Bill Barr’s SDNY takes on appeal.

UPDATE: The order has been stayed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which has set a very expedited briefing schedule. A stay is perfectly normal, by the way, and does not mean the Second Circuit plans to reverse.

I should add, to make Popehat happy on Twitter, that technically it’s not “Trump” who has to turn over the tax returns. It’s the accounting firm to which the subpoena was directed. I don’t think the headline is really that far off, though, as a practical matter.

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