President Donald Trump late Thursday asked the right-wing Supreme Court to block the Manhattan district attorney's subpoena for his tax returns, arguing that he is "absolutely immune from all stages of state criminal process while in office."
"That President Trump is going to the Supreme Court to try to avoid scrutiny of his finances does not exactly inspire confidence in what will be found in his tax returns."
—Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Trump's 179-page petition (pdf) to the Supreme Court represents the final stage in the president's effort to stop Manhattan prosecutors from obtaining eight years of his personal and business tax records. Mazars USA, Trump's accounting firm, has said it will hand over the state documents if the Supreme Court declines to hear the case.
Ryan Thomas, spokesperson for progressive advocacy group Stand Up America, said in a statement that the president's "appeal to block the release of his tax returns is nothing more than a last-ditch effort to stymie a criminal investigation that's breathing down his neck."
"No one is above the law, including Donald Trump," said Thomas. "It's absolutely shocking the lengths Donald Trump will go to to shield himself from accountability. If Trump has nothing to hide, then he should immediately release his tax returns and give the American people the transparency they deserve."
Re: subpoena for his tax returns, Trump legal team files 179 page brief arguing that "he is absolutely immune from all stages of state criminal process while in office" https://t.co/jqazNpkk4g pic.twitter.com/wsqFFUAQeb
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) November 14, 2019
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In October, as Common Dreams reported, Judge Victor Marrero of the Federal District Court in Manhattan rejected Trump's claim of absolute immunity from criminal investigations, calling it "repugnant."
"This court cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process as being countenanced by the nation's constitutional plan," wrote Marrero. "The expansive notion of constitutional immunity invoked here to shield the president from judicial process would constitute an overreach of executive power."
Trump's petition to the Supreme Court—which the president has driven further to the right by appointing Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh—came just a day after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit declined to review an earlier appeals court ruling that rejected Trump's effort to block a House Oversight and Reform Committee subpoena for eight years of his federal tax returns.
Jay Sekulow, one of the president's attorneys, quickly signaled Trump would appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
"That President Trump is going to the Supreme Court to try to avoid scrutiny of his finances does not exactly inspire confidence in what will be found in his tax returns," Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington tweeted Thursday.