President Trump’s tax returns have long been a target for his opponents who believe the returns will reveal possible illicit business dealings or illegal payoffs. The president strongly denies these allegations.
Now it looks like the president will be forced to turn over eight years of business and corporate tax returns to the Manhattan District Attorney in an investigation tied to alleged payoffs of porn star Stormy Daniels after a ruling was handed down by federal judge Victor Marrero, a Clinton appointee.
According to a report by The Daily Mail:
‘This Court cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process,’ the Bill Clinton nominee wrote in his ruling.
He blasted a ‘virtually limitless’ shield from prosecution that Trump’s private attorneys are seeking to enforce – and even invoked impeachment, writing that: ‘Until the President leaves office by expiration of his term, resignation, or removal through impeachment and conviction, his exemption from criminal proceedings would extend not only to matters arising from performance of the President’s duties and functions in his official capacity, but also to ones arising from his private affairs, financial transactions, and all other conduct undertaken by him as an ordinary citizen, both during and before his tenure in office.’
He chided Trump’s lawyers for asserting an ‘extraordinary claim’ by arguing that presidents are ‘immune’ from the wheels of justice while they are in office and argued this would give the president ‘virtually limitless’ power to ignore the U.S. Constitution.
The scathing 75 page ruling tears into Trump, who Marrero claims is acting like he is above the law and immune to criminal prosecution.
It is unclear if Trump’s returns could be made public as part of this demand or if they will remain private for now. Trump’s lawyers immediately filed an emergency appeal and it is very possible they may get a more favorable judge during the appeal process.
The DA is also investigating possible 2016 payments made to Karen McDougal. Trump’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, is currently serving a prison sentence related to those payments. He claims President Trump directed and knew about the payments, however the President claims Cohen acted independently and without his knowledge.
The fact that these charges are taking place in the Democratic controlled state of New York also introduce a possible issue for Trump if he was to ever be convicted. Since the charges are brought by the state of New York, a federal pardon would have no effect.