Trump ordered to turn over 8 years of tax returns after judge rules he has no immunity from criminal investigation


Donald Trump has been ordered to release his tax returns after a judge ruled that being president did not make him immune from investigation.

US district judge Victor Marrero said the claim of immunity was “extraordinary”, adding: “This court cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process.”

Cyrus Vance Jr, a New York district attorney, has subpoenaed eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax returns, from 2011 to 2018, and other legal documents from accountancy firm Mazars USA as part of a criminal investigation into hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

The president’s legal team had objected to the demand, saying that he would suffer “irreparable harm” if his tax returns were made available. His lawyers immediately said they would appeal the latest decision.

Mr Trump himself reacted by claiming the ruling was part of a political plot against him.

He 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!”

Since entering the White House, Mr Trump has steadfastly refused to release the documents, bucking a tradition going back to Richard Nixon that presidents make their tax returns available to demonstrate they do not have conflicts of interest.

While Mr Trump said in 2016 that he would be happy to release them if elected, he has since backtracked, claiming variously that he was unable to do so while they were under audit and insisting that people were not interested in seeing them.

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Judge Marrero wrote: “As the court reads it, presidential immunity would stretch to cover every phase of criminal proceedings, including investigations, grand jury proceedings and subpoenas, indictment, prosecution, arrest, trial, conviction, and incarceration.

“That constitutional protection presumably would encompass any conduct, at any time, in any forum, whether federal or state, and whether the president acted alone or in concert with other individuals.”

He said that he could not endorse “such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process as being countenanced by the nation’s constitutional plan, especially in the light of the fundamental concerns over excessive arrogation of power that animated the Constitution’s delicate structure and its calibrated balance of authority among the three branches of the national government, as well as between the federal and state authorities”.

Mr Trump’s lawyers immediately appealed the ruling to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, and it granted a temporary stay of the judge’s ruling “pending expedited review” by the court.

The president is separately trying to block Deutsche Bank AG from handing over financial records, which the bank has said include tax returns, requested by House committees.

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Both Ms Daniels and Ms McDougal claim that they had affairs with Mr Trump and received payments to ensure the stories would not come out while he was running for president. Mr Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was jailed for crimes including campaign finance violations connected to the payments.

He claimed that the payments were made at the instigation of “Individual 1”, believed to be Mr Trump. The president has denied any wrongdoing.

Agencies contributed to this report

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