Federal judge rules against Trump in fight to keep tax records from Manhattan prosecutors

A federal judge on Monday dismissed President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE's lawsuit challenging a subpoena from New York prosecutors for his tax returns.

Judge Victor Marrero, a district judge in New York appointed by former President Clinton, rejected Trump's argument that he cannot be subject to the criminal process while in office.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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," Marrero wrote in a 75-page ruling. 

Marrero said that Trump was advancing a position that presidents, their relatives and their businesses are above the law and that aspects of such a position are "repugnant to the nation's governmental structure and constitutional values."

Trump's lawyers promptly filed an emergency notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. The appeals court has stayed enforcement of the subpoena until a panel of appellate judges conducts an expedited review of the case.

Shortly after the ruling came out, Trump tweeted: "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!"

The Manhattan district attorney's office issued a grand jury subpoena in August to Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, for Trump's tax returns and other financial records. The following month, Trump's personal lawyers filed a lawsuit seeking to block enforcement of the subpoena.

The district attorney's office is investigating payments made ahead of the 2016 presidential election to women who have claimed they had affairs with Trump.

Trump had been seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the subpoena from being enforced while the case was being adjudicated. The district attorney's office had argued that the case should be dismissed and that any legal challenge belongs in state court rather than federal court.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) also weighed in, arguing that the case belonged in federal court and that Trump should receive interim relief as needed.

In his ruling on Monday, Marrero sided with the district attorney's office, finding that the federal court should abstain from exercising jurisdiction over Trump's lawsuit.

Marrero also denied Trump's motion for temporary relief in the event that an appeals court rules that abstaining from the case is unwarranted.

Marrero said that he doesn't think enforcement of the Mazars subpoena would cause Trump "irreparable harm." And he said that Trump would be unlikely to succeed on the merits of his case.

"The Court disagrees with the President's position that a third person or entity cannot be subpoenaed requesting documents related to an investigation concerning potentially unlawful transactions and conduct of third parties in which records possessed or controlled by the sitting President may be critical to establish the guilt or innocence of such third parties, or of the president," Marrero wrote.

Trump's lawyers had argued that the president is immune from the judicial process in light of DOJ memos that argue that president can't be criminally investigated, indicted or prosecuted. But Marrero said that he was not persuaded that the memos should be given the legal force that Trump's lawyers ascribe to them.

If the district attorney's office obtains Trump's tax returns under its subpoena, the documents would be subject to grand jury secrecy rules and wouldn't be public unless they later became evidence in a criminal case, according to The New York Times.

Read judge's ruling by kballuck1 on Scribd

This report was updated at 11:25 a.m.