A federal judge in New York threw out a lawsuit from President Donald Trump attempting to block the release of his tax returns Thursday, ruling that Trump’s position as president does not protect him from criminal probes.
District Judge Victor Marrero’s ruling clears the way for the Manhattan district attorney’s office to obtain Trump’s tax returns from his accounting firm. The DA’s office has had a subpoena pending on the issue for months, with the lawsuit representing Trump an eleventh-hour attempt to block their release.
Trump’s lawyers argued that U.S. presidents enjoy temporary absolute immunity from criminal proceedings while they are in office, going so far as to say Trump could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not be prosecuted until leaving office. Marrero disagreed.
“That notion, applied as so robustly proclaimed by the president’s advocates, is as unprecedented and far-reaching as it is perilous to the rule of law and other bedrock constitutional principles on which this country was founded and by which it continues to be governed,” Marrero wrote. (RELATED: Mnuchin Keeps Trump’s Tax Returns Under Lock And Key)
While the ruling removes Trump’s latest blocker, it does allow his lawyers to appeal the subpoena again on grounds other than presidential immunity.
Asked about the development in the Oval Office on Thursday, Trump described the attempt to get his returns as a “fishing expedition,” but did not explicitly clarify whether he would be seeking an appeal.
“Well, the Supreme Court said if it’s a fishing expedition, you don’t have to do it, and this is a fishing expedition,” he said. “But more importantly, this is a continuation of the witch hunt, the greatest witch hunt in history. There’s never been anything like it.”
The DA’s subpoena calls for 8 years of Trump’s returns, and it is not the first time Trump has faced a mandate for his tax history. Democrats in Congress issued a subpoena for 6 years of his returns in April 2019, an order he fought and ultimately defeated.
Trump’s critics have been calling for him to release his tax returns since he announced his presidential campaign in 2015, and while snippets of returns have reached the public the bulk of his tax history remains private.