A federal judge has dismissed President Donald Trump’s attempts to block the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining his tax returns as part of a criminal investigation into alleged hush-money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero rejected Trump’s “extraordinary” argument that a sitting president “enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind.”
“As the court reads it, presidential immunity would stretch to cover every phase of criminal proceedings, including investigations, grand jury proceedings and subpoenas, indictment, prosecution, arrest, trial, conviction, and incarceration,” the judge wrote. “That constitutional protection presumably would encompass any conduct, at any time, in any forum, whether federal or state, and whether the President acted alone or in concert with other individuals.”
Marrero explained that the court “cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process as being countenanced by the nation’s constitutional plan, especially in the light of the fundamental concerns over excessive arrogation of power that animated the Constitution’s delicate structure and its calibrated balance of authority among the three branches of the national government, as well as between the federal and state authorities.”
The ruling came after Trump filed a lawsuit last month against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (D) and his longtime accounting firm Mazars USA to block a subpoena issued by Vance’s office in August for eight years of his tax returns.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is investigating payments whether the Trump Organization violated any laws by reimbursing Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, who made the hush-money payments on behalf of Trump in 2016.
Cohen is currently serving time in federal prison for campaign finance violations related to the payments.
Trump’s team immediately appealed the decision to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, the Associated Press reported.
The president responded to Marrero’s decision on Twitter. He wrote, “The Radical Left Democrats have failed on all fronts, so now they are pushing local New York City and State Democrat prosecutors to go get President Trump. A thing like this has never happened to any President before. Not even close!”