President Donald Trump. Photo from Shutterstock.com.
A federal judge refused to block enforcement of a subpoena Monday for President Donald Trump’s tax returns by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who is investigating hush money payments made by Trump’s personal lawyer to two women before the 2016 presidential election.
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero of Manhattan said he was abstaining from ruling and tossing Trump’s suit to block the subpoena.
Trump immediately sought a stay pending appeal with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New York.
Vance had served the grand jury subpoena on the Trump Organization and Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA. The Mazars subpoena seeks tax records and other documents relating to hush money payments by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer. Cohen has said the Trump Organization reimbursed him for the payments, made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Cohen has pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance violations for making the payments. Vance is investigating whether the payments violated any state laws.
Marrero said Trump had made an “extraordinary claim” that he had absolute immunity in all phases of criminal investigations. Under this “virtually limitless” theory, Marrero said, Trump would be exempt from criminal proceedings while in office for matters relating to his official duties and to his private conduct, both during and before his time in office.
Marrero noted concerns that Trump would not be able to discharge his duties during some aspects of criminal investigations. But Marrero said the concerns did not apply in the case before him, which involved a grand jury subpoena in a state prosecutor’s criminal investigation of conduct relating to Cohen, which may or may not have involved Trump.