A federal judge has ruled that President Trump must turn over his tax returns to the Manhattan District Attorney, roundly rejecting the president's case for criminal immunity as "repugnant" and "extraordinary."
The tax documents, which Trump has repeatedly refused to release, are being sought as part of D.A. Cy Vance Jr.'s recently revived investigation into illegal hush money payments made to multiple women during the 2016 campaign. After prosecutors subpoenaed the president's federal and state returns last month, Trump filed suit, arguing that he was immune from criminal proceedings while in office.
In a blistering 74-page decision released on Monday, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero dismissed that argument, noting that the court “cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process." While sitting presidents can not be charged with a crime by federal prosecutors, they may be the target of criminal investigations at both the federal and local level, the judge notes.
Despite some confusion on this point from the White House, Marrero also clarified that the president is not, in fact, a king; he cites numerous Supreme Court rulings, and also the main crux of the country's founding document.
"Shunning the concept of the inviolability of the person of the King of England and the bounds of the monarch's protective screen covering the Crown's actions from legal scrutiny, the Founders disclaimed any notion that the Constitution generally conferred similarly all-encompassing immunity upon the president," the decision states.
Attorneys for the president have filed an "emergency appeal" in the Second Circuit. While the administration has successfully stalled previous decisions related to his tax returns, legal analysts say that the speed and forcefulness of this ruling may signal a turning point for the president's delay strategy.
The ruling relates to eight years of the president's personal and corporate tax returns believed to contain insight into the president's sprawling, sketchy business empire. House Democrats are also working to obtain those documents, though several lawmakers now say it's unlikely they'll be successful before the 2020 election.
A spokesperson for Vance's office declined to comment. Attorneys for the president could not immediately be reached.