Trump loses fight to keep tax records secret; judge: Sitting president can be indicted

Screengrab Fox News

President Donald Trump is in the fight of his life and he just lost a skirmish in that war.

A federal judge in New York City tossed a Trump lawsuit on Monday that attempted to block a subpoena issued by the Manhattan district attorney’s office for eight years of his tax returns.

But it gets worse for Trump, as U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, of the Southern District of New York, “rejected the notion that a sitting president can’t be indicted,” Politico reported.

Marrero, appointed by Bill Clinton, rejected the “extraordinary” claim that occupants of the White House enjoy “absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind.”

“This Court cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process,” the judge said in a 75-page ruling. “This Court finds aspects of such a doctrine repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.”

Politico noted that the ruling is “a sharp rejection of longstanding Department of Justice opinions that say a president cannot be indicted or criminally prosecuted while in office.”

More from Politico on the ruling:

Marrero said Trump’s claim of “absolute immunity” from criminal proceedings was counter to the intent of the framers of the constitution, who rejected an executive with the limitless power of a monarch. Marrero described the president’s argument as “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.”

In addition, the effort by Trump to scuttle the city prosecutor’s subpoena would protect any potential accomplices from facing justice while Trump remained in office, Marrero noted — a sweeping claim of immunity that could result in Trump and his allies being above the law. Similar arguments have been soundly and repeatedly rejected by the Supreme Court and other federal judges, he ruled.

“The notion of … presidential immunity from judicial process that the President here invokes, unqualified and boundless in its reach described above, cuts against the grain of these Constitutional precedents,” wrote Marrero.

While Democrats in Congress are very likely giddy over the ruling that Trump’s accounting firm must turn over eight years of his personal and business tax returns, nothing is going to happen just yet.

Trump’s personal attorneys reportedly filed an “emergency appeal” of the decision to the Manhattan-based 2 nd Circuit Court of Appeals, with the appeals court issuing a temporary stay of Marrero’s ruling while proceedings are pending.

The president responded to the ruling shortly after it was reported.

“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,” tweeted the president. “A thing like this has never happened to any President before. Not even close!”

The Wall Street Journal reported the Justice Department asked Marrero last week to temporarily block enforcement of the subpoena to allow for further consideration of the legal issues. The DOJ lawyers also requested that the dispute remain in federal court, instead of state court, as Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., a Democrat, has requested.


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