Judge throws out Trump effort to block subpoena for tax returns

A federal judge in New York on Thursday dismissed President Trump’s latest effort to stymie a New York grand jury subpoena for his tax returns and a trove of other financial documents.

The ruling by District Judge Victor Marrero relied heavily on the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last month that rejected Trump’s claim that presidents enjoy absolute immunity from criminal probes.

“That notion, applied as so robustly proclaimed by the president’s advocates, is as unprecedented and far-reaching as it is perilous to the rule of law and other bedrock constitutional principles on which this country was founded and by which it continues to be governed,” Marrero wrote.

The decision moves Manhattan prosecutors closer to obtaining Trump’s tax returns, though it’s unlikely the public will see them before the November election, according to legal experts.

The dispute over access to eight years of Trump’s financial documents, including his personal and corporate tax returns, arose after Cyrus Vance Jr., the Democratic district attorney for Manhattan, obtained a grand jury subpoena for Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA.

Vance’s office is looking into payments made to silence two women who allege they had affairs with Trump, including adult-film star Stormy Daniels, before he became president.

Additionally, Vance’s office hinted earlier this month that its subpoena is part of an investigation into “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” including potential fraud allegations detailed in media reports in recent years.

In response to Thursday’s ruling, Trump’s personal attorneys asked the court to pause its decision from taking effect pending an appeal to the New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said the legal battle over the subpoena was far from finished, and predicted the case could once again come before the Supreme Court.

“Well, the Supreme Court said if it’s a fishing expedition, you don’t have to do it, and this is a fishing expedition,” he said. “But more importantly, this is a continuation of the witch hunt, the greatest witch hunt in history. There’s never been anything like it.”

Trump has tried for nearly a year to fend off the Manhattan district attorney subpoena and has lost every round of battle in court. 

After his defeat at the Supreme Court last month, Trump filed another complaint to the federal trial court in the Southern District of New York, arguing that the New York grand jury subpoena was overly broad and issued in bad faith.

In his Thursday decision, Marrero rejected Trump’s argument, saying it “amounts to absolute immunity through a back door.”

The latest legal development is expected to accelerate the timeline of when prosecutors will ultimately come to possess Trump’s tax returns.

However, some analysts say grand jury secrecy rules may keep Trump’s financial records under wraps from the public indefinitely, or at least until the criminal case ends or some new investigative twist diminishes the need for secrecy.

— Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report. Updated at 12:06 p.m.

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