Donald Trump’s Challenge To Tax Return Release In New York Denied By Federal Judge

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses an event for the Young Black Leadership Summit in the East Room of the White House October 04, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Donald Trump faces an uphill battle in the wake of impeachment proceedings against him, and the push for the release of his tax returns doesn’t appear to be making things any easier. As Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. seeks the release of the president’s tax returns in connection to an investigation into the Trump Organization, Trump’s legal team reportedly attempted to block the process.

A federal judge, Victor Marrero, rejected the challenge Monday. Although Trump’s legal team claims that the investigation is politically motivated and Trump is immune to criminal probes as president, Marrero said he could not endorse a “categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process,” TIME reports.

A closer look at the 75-page ruling reveals a scathing attack on Trump’s argument. He called it “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values” and suggested that presidents are not above the law, despite the assertions of his attorneys.

Vance Jr. is currently investigating whether the Trump Organization broke New York State laws when it purchased the silence of two women ⁠— including Stormy Daniels ⁠— who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. The payments were reportedly made by Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, in the run-up to the 2016 election.

The New York Times reports that lawyers in Trump’s Justice Department under Attorney General William P. Barr attempted to block the subpoena by citing constitutional issues. Although the department did not state whether it agrees with Trump’s argument, it said it wanted to present its views on the case.

“After 9 a.m., the president will not have enough time to seek relief from the Second Circuit before Mazars discloses his confidential information,” William S. Consovoy, a lawyer for Trump, wrote late Friday, demanding a ruling from the judge early Monday morning so that the team can appeal before the afternoon deadline.

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Trump’s tax returns are at the center of the second whistleblower complaint related to the president’s administration. According to the anonymous employee of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a political appointee in the U.S. Department of Treasury may have interfered with the audit of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s tax returns.

According to the IRS employee, Trump’s administration dismissed the claims because they were “flimsy,” which echoes the dismissal of the first whistleblower complaint of Trump’s controversial Ukraine call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Trump currently faces an official impeachment inquiry, which was announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He continues to launch attacks on Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, California Rep. Adam Schiff, as well as Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.