Published: Tue, November 05, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Trump must turn over tax returns, federal appeals court rules

Trump must turn over tax returns, federal appeals court rules

The court did not consider whether the president is immune from indictment and prosecution while in office or whether the president may be ordered to produce documents in a state criminal proceeding.

Trump has argued that authorities can not investigate a sitting president for anything.

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, said the Republican president will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, whose 5-4 conservative majority includes two justices appointed by Mr. Trump.

On Monday, Sekulow added: "The issue raised in this case goes to the heart of our Republic".

Mr. Trump has refused to make his tax returns public, breaking with a decades-old tradition of USA presidential candidates releasing their returns during campaigns and presidents disclosing them while in office. Since declaring his candidacy more than four years ago, he has resisted all demands that he disclose his financial data.

Trump sued Mazars last month in an attempt to prevent the firm from complying with subpoenas for his financial records.

The three-judge panel declined to grant the president an injunction, rejecting the arguments of "presidential immunity" from the NY state investigation. "A thing like this has never happened to any President before".

The office sought the records in connection with an investigation into whether any NY state laws were broken when Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, reimbursed his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, for payments he made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed she had an affair with Trump.

The judge described Trump's assertion of immunity as "repugnant to the nation's governmental structure and constitutional values".

"Moreover, the president concedes that his immunity lasts only so long as he holds office and that he could therefore be prosecuted after leaving office", the judges wrote. Trump challenged it, arguing that he is not subject to the state criminal process while in office, and asked a federal District Court to declare the subpoena unenforceable during Trump's presidency.

Claire Finkelstein, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, talks to Al Jazeera about the development.

Manhattan federal court judge Victor Marrero threw out the lawsuit in a decision that was quickly appealed by Trump's lawyers to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. They sent the case back to Marrero to determine whether any further consideration is needed.

Trump's legal team has claimed that he is shielded from such investigations due to his status as president. The ruling does not mean that Trump's tax records will be turned over immediately.

The district attorney's office also agreed not to enforce the subpoena until the Supreme Court either declines to hear the case or reaches a decision, whichever comes first.

The panel of judges on the U.S. Second Circuit of Appeals predicted that Trump's lawyers are all but certain to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The timing of Monday's decision means the Supreme Court could probably take up and decide the case in its current term, which ends in June.

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