The district attorney of Manhattan can obtain President Donald Trump's tax records, according to a federal judge who ruled Thursday against the president's claims that a subpoena for the documents was issued "in bad faith."
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero blocked (pdf) Trump's latest attempt to keep his tax records hidden as Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance investigates payments that were made to two women by the president's former lawyer during the 2016 election and whether the payments amount to a campaign finance violation.
"This is very bad news for Trump," tweeted Slate staff writer Mark Joseph Stern.
Here's the Judge Marrero's decision throwing out Trump's challenge to Cy Vance's subpoena of his tax returns.
This is very bad news for Trump. https://t.co/tyJlRKg20X
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) August 20, 2020
Trump's legal team argued that Vance's attempt to uncover the records amounts to "harassment," even after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a major ruling last month stating that Trump's presidency does not make him immune to criminal investigations or state court rulings.
"Despite his best efforts to stymie this investigation into his criminal wrongdoing, this decision affirms that Donald Trump is not above the law," said Ryan Thomas, spokesperson for Stand Up America. "However, it's incredibly telling that Trump doesn't want congressional and criminal investigators to see what he's hiding in his tax returns."
Following Marrero's ruling, Trump's lawyers requested a delay in enforcing Vance's subpoena to allow for an appeal. Vance's office agreed to a one-week delay.
After the Supreme Court decision last month, a grand jury issued a subpoena to Mazars USA, the president's accounting firm. In addition to seeking eight years of business and personal tax records pertaining to payments to the two women, for which Trump reimbursed his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, Vance is also reportedly probing possible bank and insurance fraud by the Trump Organization.
Following the indictments and convictions of a number of the president's close associates—including former adviser Steve Bannon on Thursday—Marrero's ruling will bring investigators one step closer to proving that "Trumpism is just another word for criminality and corruption," said Thomas.
Law professor Jennifer Taub tweeted that considering Bannon's indictment and the ruling were announced within hours of each other, "I hereby declare August 20 to be Nobody is Above the Law Day."
I hereby declare August 20 to be Nobody is Above the Law Day.
(1) Bannon indictment
(2) Order for Trump taxes and financial records
(3) [The day is young. We shall see]
— Jennifer Taub (@jentaub) August 20, 2020
Following the ruling in Manhattan, the president complained to the press about what he called "a continuation of the witch hunt, the greatest witch hunt in history," and said that "the Supreme Court shouldn't have allowed this to happen."
The ruling, wrote Stern, means that regardless of Trump's protestations, "the grand jury is getting its hands on those tax returns."
"Today's decision was inevitable—the Supreme Court left Trump no real wiggle room to challenge this subpoena," he wrote.