A federal judge on Monday ruled that President Donald Trump cannot shield his tax returns from prosecutors, declaring that sitting presidents are not immune from criminal prosecution, CNN reports.
Trump through his attorneys had filed a motion aimed at keeping a New York prosecutor from examining his tax returns for a criminal investigation.
The decision, which denied Trump’s request for a stay of the ruling, represents a devastating defeat for Trump and a legal victory for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns for a criminal investigation of Trump-linked hush-money payments to adult film star Stephanie Clifford, whose stage name is Stormy Daniels, and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Manhattan U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero rejected what he termed Trump’s “extraordinary claim” that “the person who serves as president, while in office, enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind.”
That claim is too broad, wrote Marrero, because it would represent “virtually limitless” protection from criminal investigations not only for sitting presidents but also associates who might have collaborated in potentially illegal actions.
“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, especially in light of the fundamental concerns of excessive abrogation 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,” wrote Marrero.
“Hence, the expansive notion of constitutional immunity invoked here to shield the president from judicial process would constitute an overreach of executive power.”
Marrero denied Trump’s motions for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction as he dismissed the subpoena challenge.
Trump’s attorneys immediately filed a notice of an emergency appeal.