President Donald Trump plans to take his legal battle with New York state prosecutors to the U.S. Supreme Court after a federal circuit court ruled on Monday that he must turn over financial records.
In August, the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance served a subpoena on behalf of a criminal grand jury it had impaneled seeking financial records, including Trump’s personal tax returns, from the president’s accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP, according to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion.
Trump’s personal attorneys sought to block the subpoena by filing a suit in federal court asking for an injunction and judgment against the document demand.
The Trump legal team argued, based on opinion memorandums issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, that a sitting president may not be criminally prosecuted while he or she is in office.
The issue of whether a president can be criminally prosecuted by a state or federal government has not been directly addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Reuters.
The Constitution is silent on the matter.
A federal district court ruled against Trump in early October.
On Monday, the 2nd Circuit upheld the district court’s ruling, arguing the DOJ memorandums issued in 1973 and 2000 around the times of the impeachment inquiries against former Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton “are directed almost exclusively to the question of whether the president may be indicted,” not whether he can be criminally investigated.
“Moreover, the president concedes that his immunity lasts only so long as he holds office and that he could therefore be prosecuted after leaving office,” the judges wrote.
“There is no obvious reason why a state could not begin to investigate a president during his term and, with the information secured during that search, ultimately determine to prosecute him after he leaves office.”
The court concluded, “We hold … that any presidential immunity from state criminal process does not extend to investigative steps like the grand jury subpoena at issue here.”
“The decision of the Second Circuit will be taken to the Supreme Court,” Sekulow said. “The issue raised in this case goes to the heart of our Republic. The constitutional issues are significant.”
Former Manhattan-based federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy charged Vance, a Democrat, with politicizing his office by targeting Trump for state criminal prosecution.
“This is basically an obvious politicizing of state law in order to try to investigate the president for political purposes,” McCarthy told Fox News in September.
“In politics, just like in law, what goes around comes around and this is something that could bite the Democrats if a Democrat is in the White House at some later point.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James promised in December before taking office that her prosecutors would “use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well.”
The president tweeted about James at the time, writing that she has a “GET TRUMP agenda” and “does little else but rant, rave & politic against me.”
….In any event, it goes on and on & the new AG, who is now being replaced by yet another AG (who openly campaigned on a GET TRUMP agenda), does little else but rant, rave & politic against me. Will never be treated fairly by these people – a total double standard of “justice.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
“Will never be treated fairly by these people – a total double standard of ‘justice.'”
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