What to Know
- A federal appellate court dealt President Trump a serious blow on Monday, saying the Manhattan DA could subpoena his tax records
- The president's lawyers had argued presidential immunity precluded such a grand jury request
- Manhattan DA Cy Vance is probing hush-money payments made to women who claimed affairs with the president
A federal appellate court on Monday ruled that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance can subpoena the president's tax records from his accountants, rejecting President Trump's immunity claims.
The ruling comes less than two weeks after the sides appeared before the 2nd Circuit to argue the case, and as expected, President Trump's personal lawyers quickly said they would appeal to the Supreme Court.
"With the benefit of the district court’s well‐ articulated opinion, we hold that any presidential immunity from state criminal process does not bar the enforcement of such a subpoena. Considering the foregoing, the President has neither demonstrated that he is likely to prevail on, nor raised sufficiently serious questions going to the merits of, his immunity claim, and so he is not entitled to preliminary injunctive relief," the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals wrote.
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Vance, a Democrat, is conducting a wide-ranging probe that includes payments made to buy the silence of two women who claim affairs with the president before the 2016 presidential election.
The payments were made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, a onetime Playboy centerfold. Both have spoken publicly about affairs they say they had with the president before the 2016 presidential election.
Trump appealed after a lower-court judge tossed out his challenge to Vance's subpoena of his financial records from his longtime accountant.
The court, in ruling for Vance Monday, also nodded at the long-running controversy over Trump's refusal to release his tax returns at all.
"We note that the past six presidents, dating back to President Carter, all voluntarily released their tax returns to the public. While we do not place dispositive weight on this fact, it reinforces our conclusion that the disclosure of personal financial information, standing alone, is unlikely to impair the President in performing the duties of his office," the court wrote.
The Oct. 23 appellate hearing sparked controversy after President Trump's lawyer said a sitting president's immunity was so all-encompassing, a president could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and authorities could not even investigate the incident.
The President’s legal team will now likely appeal this decision to the Supreme Court or ask for a full argument before all of the judges in the 2nd Circuit. Otherwise, he has to stand-down from his legal fight and the tax preparer, Mazars USA LLC, must hand over the documents.