Trump Taxes: President Ordered To Turn Over Returns To Manhattan D.A.
A judge rejected the president’s argument that he was immune from criminal investigations. Trump Taxes: President Ordered To Turn Over Returns To Manhattan D.A.
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 judge’s decision came a little more than a month after the Manhattan district attorney subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for his personal and corporate returns dating to 2011. The demand touched off a legal showdown that raised new constitutional questions and drew in the Justice Department, which supported the president’s request to delay enforcement of the subpoena.
The president’s lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., declined to comment.
Mr. Vance’s office has been investigating whether any New York State laws were broken when Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed the president’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, for payments he made in the run-up to the 2016 election to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, who had said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump has denied having an affair with Ms. Daniels.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers sued last month to block the subpoena, arguing that the Constitution effectively makes sitting presidents immune from all criminal inquiries until they leave the White House.
The lawyers acknowledged that their argument had not been tested in courts, but said the release of the president’s tax returns would cause him “irreparable harm.”
Mr. Vance’s office asked Judge Marrero to dismiss Mr. Trump’s suit, saying a grand jury had a right to “pursue its investigation free from interference and litigious delay” and rejecting his claim to blanket immunity. The judge was appointed by President Bill Clinton.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers have called the investigation by Mr. Vance, a Democrat, politically motivated. Mr. Vance has accused the president and his team of trying to run out the clock on the investigation.
Last week, lawyers with Mr. Trump’s Justice Department jumped into the fray, asking the judge to temporarily block the subpoena while the court takes time to consider the “significant constitutional issues” in the case.
The Justice Department, led by Attorney General William P. Barr, did not say whether it agreed with Mr. Trump’s position that presidents cannot be investigated. But, citing the constitutional questions, the department said it wanted to provide its views.
The Constitution does not explicitly say whether presidents can be charged with a crime while in office, and the Supreme Court has not answered the question.
Federal prosecutors are barred from charging a sitting president with a crime because the Justice Department has decided that presidents have temporary immunity while they are in office.
But in the past, that position has not precluded investigating a president. Presidents, including Mr. Trump, have been subjects of federal criminal investigations while in office. Local prosecutors, such as Mr. Vance, are also not bound by the Justice Department’s position.
As part of a temporary deal reached last month, Mr. Vance’s office agreed not to enforce the subpoena until two days after Judge Marrero issued a ruling, which would give Mr. Trump a chance to appeal if he lost. But that agreement was to expire at 1 p.m. on Monday.
The president and his lawyers have fought vigorously to shield his tax returns, which Mr. Trump said during the 2016 campaign that he would make public but has since refused to disclose.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers have sued to block attempts by congressional Democrats and New York lawmakers to gain access to his tax returns and financial records. They also successfully challenged a California law requiring presidential primary candidates to release their tax returns.
If Mr. Vance ultimately prevails in obtaining the president’s tax returns, they would not automatically become public. They would be protected by rules governing the secrecy of grand jury investigations unless the documents became evidence in a criminal case.
Appeals Court Puts on Hold Order That Trump Release Tax Returns
Judge rules President Trump isn’t immune from criminal investigations while in office; appeals court blocks immediate enforcement of subpoena.
A federal judge in New York on Monday ruled President Trump’s accounting firm must turn over eight years of his personal and business tax returns, an order immediately put on hold by an appeals court.
The decision came in a lawsuit filed by Mr. Trump against Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Mazars USA LLP, his longtime accounting firm. Mr. Trump sought to block a subpoena for his tax returns that state prosecutors sent to the accounting firm, saying it was unconstitutional to subject a sitting president to what he called the “criminal process.”
Mr. Trump’s lawyers filed an emergency appeal minutes after the ruling, leading a judge from the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put the ruling temporarily on hold “because of the unique issues raised by this appeal.” Mr. Vance’s office asked the court to hear arguments on the matter this week, but it isn’t clear when the panel will rule.
Mr. Vance’s office sent the subpoena to Mazars in August as part of its probe into whether payments made to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, and how these payments were recorded, violate a state law against falsifying business records.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero rejected the idea that a president couldn’t be investigated while in office. “This Court cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process,” wrote Judge Marrero, an appointee of President Bill Clinton.
The judge said he recognized that subjecting a president to certain criminal proceedings, such as imprisonment, would interfere with his official duties. But the idea that the president, his business entities, relatives and private activities are immune from any criminal process is too broad, he said.
“This Court finds aspects of such a doctrine repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values,” Judge Marrero wrote.
Responding to the ruling on Twitter, Mr. Trump 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! “
A spokesman for Mr. Vance, a Democrat, declined to comment. Within minutes of the ruling, lawyers for Mr. Trump appealed the decision to the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Last week, the Justice Department weighed in on the case, asking the judge to temporarily block enforcement of the subpoena to allow for further consideration of the legal issues. The Justice Department lawyers also said the dispute should remain in federal court, not state court as requested by Mr. Vance’s office.
In a letter to the judge, prosecutors from Mr. Vance’s office said delaying enforcement of the subpoena would likely result in the statute of limitations expiring for state crimes under consideration. They asked Judge Marrero to dismiss the case. “The Plaintiff’s only goal in this litigation, now supported by the DOJ itself, is to obtain as much delay as possible, through litigation, stays, and appeals,” the state prosecutors wrote.
The state probe comes on the heels of a federal investigation into hush-money payments that concluded this summer. Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to charges including violating campaign-finance laws as a result of that investigation, is now in federal prison.
Mr. Vance’s prosecutors have said the tax returns would remain confidential because they are part of a grand-jury proceeding. During a hearing, a lawyer for Mr. Trump said he didn’t think Mr. Vance’s office could make this promise.
“We do not know how the district attorney will respond to a subpoena from Congress,” said the lawyer, William Consovoy. “Would those secrecy laws trump that subpoena?”
Several disputes over Mr. Trump’s tax returns are making their way through federal courts. In New York, a federal appeals court is weighing a case in which Mr. Trump sued Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp. to block the banks from complying with congressional subpoenas. In California, a federal judge temporarily suspended a new state law requiring presidential candidates to make their tax returns public in order to appear on the state’s primary-election ballot.
House Democrats May Pursue Eight Years Of Trump’s Tax Returns, Appeals Court Rules
Appointed by Trump, Judge Neomi Rao was the lone dissenting vote. Trump may appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
President Donald Trump on Friday lost his appeal to block House Democrats from gaining access to his tax documents from his longtime accounting firm Mazars USA.
The ruling, made by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, means that Mazars must turn over eight years of the president’s long-secret accounting records. However, Trump may still appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
In a 2-1 ruling, the judges upheld a lower court ruling and rejected arguments made by the president’s legal team that a House Oversight and Reform Committee’s investigation into his financial records has no legitimate legislative purpose.
“A congressional committee, as committees have done repeatedly over the past two centuries, issued an investigative subpoena, and the target of that subpoena, questioning the committee’s legislative purpose, has asked a court to invalidate it,” the majority opinion states. “The fact that the subpoena in this case seeks information that concerns the president of the United States adds a twist, but not a surprising one.”
“We detect no inherent constitutional flaw in laws requiring presidents to publicly disclose certain financial information,” the opinion states. “And that is enough.”
D.C. Circuit Court Judge David S. Tatel, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, wrote the majority opinion. He was joined by Judge Patricia Millett, an appointee of former President Barack Obama. Trump appointee Judge Neomi Rao dissented.
The case dates back to April, when the House Oversight and Committee subpoenaed the president’s accounting firm.
The move marks a significant legal blow to Trump and will likely only fuel the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry into the president.
Democrats on Capitol Hill have been on a hunt for Trump’s tax returns since he bucked decades of tradition when he refused to release them during the 2016 election cycle.
Though not required by law, every major party presidential nominee since the 1970s has chosen to publicly release his or her tax returns except for Gerald Ford, who only released a summary. Financial disclosures can help paint a fuller picture of a candidate’s business positions and interests by providing information about financial dealings, such as investments, donations, business relationships, assets and possible conflicts of interests.
Since clinching the presidency, Trump has argued that he cannot disclose his returns, because he is being audited by the IRS — even though an audit does not prevent a taxpayer from releasing his or her own tax documents. Though he has vowed to fight “all the subpoenas” lodged by Democrats seeking his financial records, House Democrats have ramped up their efforts to obtain his tax returns in recent months.
Judge Orders Trump To Pay $2 Million For Misusing His Foundation
The money raised “was used for Mr. Trump’s political campaign and disbursed by Mr. Trump’s campaign staff,” the judge noted.
President Donald Trump must pay a $2 million judgment for improperly using his Trump Foundation charity to further his 2016 presidential campaign, a New York state judge ruled Thursday.
President Donald Trump must pay a $2 million judgment for improperly using his Trump Foundation charity to further his 2016 presidential campaign, a New York state judge ruled Thursday.
The order appears to bring to an end the New York attorney general’s lawsuit against the president and three of his oldest children over the now-shuttered foundation, which the attorney general said had engaged in repeated wrongdoing.
“Our petition detailed a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more,” then-Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleged in a statement late last year.
In her seven-page ruling, New York Supreme Court Justice Salliann Scarpulla wrote, “Mr. Trump’s fiduciary duty breaches included allowing his campaign to orchestrate the Fundraiser, allowing his campaign, instead of the Foundation, to direct distribution of the Funds, and using the Fundraiser and distribution of the Funds to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.”
Trump Rebuffed In Bid to Keep Tax Returns from Manhattan DA
President’s attorneys vowed to appeal to Supreme Court a ruling ordering his accountant to turn over his financial records.
A federal appeals court dealt President Trump another setback in his effort to keep his tax records secret, ruling Monday that the president’s accounting firm must comply with a New York grand-jury subpoena for his financial information.
The 3-0 ruling rejected Mr. Trump’s attempt to block Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. from subpoenaing the president’s financial information from his longtime accountant, Mazars USA LLP.
Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, said Monday that the president would appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Vance has agreed not to enforce the subpoena during such an appeal, meaning Mazars won’t have to comply immediately with the document requests.
“The issue raised in this case goes to the heart of our republic,” Mr. Sekulow said. “The constitutional issues are significant.”
A spokesman for Mr. Vance declined to comment.
Mr. Vance subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s tax returns in August as part of his investigation into whether the recording of payments to former adult-film performer Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal violated a law against falsifying business records. In September, Mr. Trump sued Mazars and Mr. Vance in federal court to block the subpoena while he is in the White House.
The three-judge panel from the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York declined to rule on Mr. Trump’s lawyers’ broad assertion that a president is immune from all aspects of a criminal investigation.
“We conclude only that presidential immunity does not bar the enforcement of a state grand jury subpoena directing a third party to produce non‐privileged material, even when the subject matter under investigation pertains to the President,” wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Robert Katzmann, in a decision joined by Judges Christopher Droney and Denny Chin.
The panel sent Mr. Trump’s lawsuit back to the district court judge, disagreeing with his decision to toss the entire case. But Mr. Trump’s attorneys’ promise to appeal means the Supreme Court could ultimately decide whether Mazars must comply with the subpoena.
The court didn’t broadly address the issue of whether a president himself, and not a third party, could be required to produce documents for a state criminal investigation.
“We emphasize again the narrowness of the issue before us,” Judge Katzmann wrote. “This appeal does not require us to consider whether the President is immune from indictment and prosecution while in office, nor to consider whether the President may lawfully be ordered to produce documents for use in a state criminal proceeding.”
Mazars has declined to participate in the case but has said it would comply with its legal obligations.
Prosecutors for Mr. Vance argued the subpoena was valid and that the case belonged in state court.
In repeatedly rebuffing bipartisan calls to release his tax returns, Mr. Trump has broken with precedent set by presidents from both major parties dating back to the 1970s, most of whom made such records public voluntarily.
His lawsuit against Mr. Vance is one of several legal attempts by the president to block subpoenas for his tax returns.
In April, Mr. Trump, his three adult children and his real-estate businesses sued Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp. in an attempt to block the banks from complying with congressional subpoenas for tax returns and other information. That case is also pending before the federal appeals court in New York.
Mr. Vance’s investigation stems from the arrangement of hush-money payments made to Ms. Daniels and Ms. McDougal. Mr. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen admitted to violating campaign-finance law by arranging the payments to quash news reports during the 2016 election that Mr. Trump had previously had affairs with both women. Mr. Trump has denied those allegations and any wrongdoing.
Mr. Vance’s investigators have interviewed Mr. Cohen, who is now in prison, as part of their probe.
During arguments in October, the three judges appeared skeptical of the president’s sweeping claim of immunity from any investigation or prosecution while in office.
During a discussion of a hypothetical situation in which Mr. Trump shoots someone while standing in the middle of Fifth Avenue—an apparent reference to a 2016 remark the president made while campaigning—Judge Chin asked whether local authorities could investigate the crime.
“Once a president is removed from office, any local authority” could investigate or prosecute him, said William Consovoy, a lawyer representing the president.
“Nothing could be done, that’s your position?” asked Judge Chin.
“That is correct,” Mr. Consovoy said.
Appeals Court Rebuffs Renewed Trump Bid to Block House Subpoena for Financial Records
Court order sets stage for emergency appeal to the Supreme Court.
A federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to reconsider a ruling that allowed a House committee to subpoena President Trump’s financial records from his longtime accounting firm, a move that gives the president a week to seek emergency intervention from the Supreme Court.
Mr. Trump’s lawyer said the case would be appealed to the high court.
The president already is expected to file emergency papers with the Supreme Court Thursday in a separate but related case in which lower courts ruled Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. could enforce a grand jury subpoena that seeks the president’s tax returns and other records from the same accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP.
Wednesday’s action came in a case where the House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena to Mazars for eight years of financial records related to Mr. Trump, his real-estate company, his foundation and other entities. The subpoena seeks “all statements of financial condition, annual statements, periodic financial reports, and independent auditors’ reports” and related notes and communications.
A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last month held the subpoena was valid and enforceable, in a 2-1 ruling.
“Contrary to the president’s arguments, the committee possesses authority under both the House rules and the Constitution to issue the subpoena, and Mazars must comply,” Judge David Tatel wrote in the Oct. 11 opinion.
The House Oversight Committee said the records were important for its examination of ethics and conflict-of-interest issues in the executive branch, as well as the accuracy of Mr. Trump’s federally required financial disclosures.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers argued the committee was seeking the information to score political points and had no legitimate purpose that is tied to Congress’s authority to enact legislation.
The Trump legal team asked the appeals court to reconsider, this time with all active judges on the court participating. The D.C. Circuit on Wednesday denied that request by an 8-3 vote.
The majority didn’t comment on the court’s order, but three conservative judges, including two appointed by Mr. Trump, registered dissents.
The court’s ruling poses a “threat to presidential autonomy and independence” that is far greater than previous court decisions, Judge Gregory Katsas wrote in one of the dissents.
The appeals court in a previous order said it would give Mr. Trump a week after it ruled on his reconsideration request to seek relief from the Supreme Court.
“In light of the well reasoned dissent, we will seek review at the Supreme Court,” Mr. Trump’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, said.
Judge Narrows Path For House To Obtain Trump’s New York State Tax Returns
The House would have to wait two weeks after making such a request while a court considers its lawfulness.
President Trump won a court ruling on Monday evening that would limit the ability of the Democratic-led House of Representatives to obtain his state tax returns from New York until a federal court could decide whether the request was lawful.
Calling the case “extraordinary,” U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols issued an order directing the House to tell Mr. Trump if it plans to request his tax returns from New York state officials.
Judge Nichols further ordered that the House would have to wait 14 days after a request for the records while a federal court considers the central question in the lawsuit: whether the House can lawfully request and obtain Mr. Trump’s state tax returns.
It is another twist in a long, drawn-out legal fight over Mr. Trump’s private financial information. Several similar cases are winding their way through the court system as Democrats in Congress have sought to obtain Mr. Trump’s tax and banking records as part of numerous investigations.
In addition to the case before Judge Nichols over Mr. Trump’s New York state tax returns, federal courts are also grappling with whether the Internal Revenue Service has to turn over Mr. Trump’s federal returns and whether Congress can request records from his accounting firm.
The lawsuit before Judge Nichols came about after New York passed a law in July authorizing the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to release state tax returns of federal officials who file in New York. Mr. Trump sued pre-emptively to stop the Democrats from making a request.
Democrats in Congress have requested Mr. Trump’s federal tax returns from the IRS under a different law. However, they haven’t said if or how they will request Mr. Trump’s state tax returns.
During the 2016 campaign, President Trump declined to voluntarily release his tax returns, breaking with decades of tradition for presidential candidates. Mr. Trump has said he cannot release the records because of a continuing IRS audit, though no law prevents him from releasing them while under audit.
Supreme Court Suspends House Subpoena Seeking Trump’s Financial Information
High court now likely to consider case that strikes at heart of the U.S. Constitution.
The Supreme Court granted President Trump’s emergency request to suspend enforcement of a congressional subpoena seeking his financial records from his accounting firm, a move that could keep the documents from House Democrats for months—if they see them at all.
But in tandem with blocking the subpoena for now, the court signaled Mr. Trump would have to move quickly with his appeal, ensuring the president can’t delay proceedings through the 2020 election.
The high court’s action also makes it likely that the justices will agree to a full review of the president’s appeal after he files a formal petition with the court next month. Given the magnitude of the constitutional questions involved, the court’s decision to give Mr. Trump time to mount the appeal doesn’t come as a surprise.
The justices, in a brief written order on Monday, stayed an October appeals court ruling that upheld a subpoena by the House Oversight Committee to Mazars USA LLP. The committee is seeking eight years of financial records about Mr. Trump and his affiliated businesses as part of its probe into White House ethics issues, including whether the president is improperly profiting from his office.
Mr. Trump has said the Democratic-controlled House is using the subpoena as a political weapon that isn’t tied to any legitimate legislative purpose. The House panel said Mr. Trump is engaged in a legal assault on the authority of a coequal branch of government to hold the White House accountable for its actions.
The court, as is its custom with emergency stay orders, didn’t explain its reasoning. There were no recorded dissents.
The justices, as part of issuing the stay, said Mr. Trump must file his high-court appeal by Dec. 5. That timeline would give the court enough operating room to formally accept the case for review, hear arguments and issue a ruling during its current term, which runs through the end of June. The prospect of a June decision, however, means House Democrats will be waiting another seven months for a chance at the records.
The president’s lawyers, in their emergency request filed Nov. 15, argued that blocking the subpoena was especially important because the litigation raises “unprecedented separation-of-powers issues that warrant the court’s review.” The case “will have lasting consequences for the functioning of the presidency,” they said.
The oversight panel urged the court to deny the stay so it could move forward to collect the Trump financial records, noting the subpoena already has been pending for more than 200 days. The committee in court papers said it would suffer “severe harm…by being deprived of information it urgently needs to exercise its constitutional functions.”
The committee’s probe began before the House launched a formal impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump, and its focus is separate from the House’s examination of Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. The House, however, has left open the possibility that it may bring articles of impeachment against the president for other conduct, including the financial dealings at the heart of the oversight panel’s investigation.
The case is one of two related matters currently pending at the Supreme Court. Mr. Trump is separately asking the justices to review rulings that allowed Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. to enforce a similar subpoena to Mazars for Trump financial records—and tax returns—as part of a criminal investigation.
Mr. Vance is examining hush-money payments to two women who allege they had affairs with Mr. Trump.
Appeals Court Rules Against Trump on Subpoenas to Deutsche Bank, Capital One
President Trump had sought to quash subpoenas issued by House Democrats for financial records.
A federal appeals court ruled House Democrats can enforce subpoenas to two banks that seek President Trump’s financial records, as well as those of his family and their businesses.
The New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Tuesday rejected Mr. Trump’s request to block the subpoenas, which House committees issued earlier this year to Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp.
The court, in a divided ruling, said Congress had valid and lawful purposes for seeking the documents, even though the information was about the Trump family’s private financial and business affairs.
The court said the documents were relevant for investigations by the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees into the movement of illicit funds through the global banking system and efforts by foreign entities to influence the U.S. political process.
“The public interest in vindicating the committee’s constitutional authority is clear and substantial,” Judge Jon Newman wrote for the majority in a 106-page opinion that was joined by Judge Peter Hall.
The Second Circuit did order some limited exceptions to the subpoenas in order to prevent disclosure of sensitive personal information about the Trump family.
The appeals court agreed to stay its ruling for a week in order to give Mr. Trump the opportunity to seek emergency intervention from the Supreme Court.
Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said the subpoenas were invalid. “We are evaluating our next options including seeking review at the Supreme Court,” he said.
Judge Debra Ann Livingston objected to core parts of the ruling in a 59-page dissent, saying the subpoenas were “deeply troubling” in their breadth and raised separation-of-powers concerns. She would have required the House committees to provide additional support for why the Trump financial records were pertinent to the congressional investigations and should be disclosed.
The case is similar to one that has been litigated in Washington, D.C., in which House Democrats have sought records from Mr. Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP. Lower courts ruled against the president, but the Supreme Court last month suspended those subpoenas for now while the president mounts a high court appeal.
Also pending before the high court is a separate Trump appeal that seeks to challenge a subpoena Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. issued to Mazars for Trump financial records—and tax returns—as part of a criminal investigation. Mr. Vance is examining hush-money payments to two women who allege they had affairs with Mr. Trump.
The Supreme Court could announce in the next few weeks whether it will review those cases.
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