A federal court judge has ruled against a legal argument presented by President Donald Trump’s lawyers which posited the president of the United States cannot be charged with a crime while in office.
The argument was made in a case involving Trump’s tax returns. Trump, who promised during the 2016 presidential campaign to release his taxes to the public once an audit was completed, never did so and has since reneged on that promise entirely, CNN previously reported. His refusal to share his taxes with the American people broke a decades-long tradition by other individuals who have run for president.
The district attorney’s office of Manhattan subpoenaed Mazars USA, the accounting firm Trump has used for years, to attain eight years of taxes from the president, prior reporting from HillReporter.com details. DA Cyrus Vance claims he needs the records in order to investigate whether Trump engaged in business fraud by possibly listing a reimbursed payment to his then-lawyer Michael Cohen.
Cohen received a reimbursement for his efforts to make a hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an affair with the president, reporting from Axios detailed. A federal investigation resulted in Cohen making a plea deal, but effectively ended without any charges toward the president himself.
IMPORTANT: The New York judge who dismissed Trump's tax return suit also took a huge swing at the DOJ memos that say a sitting president can't be indicted. He says the legal weigh given to these OLC opinions is "not warranted." >>>>> pic.twitter.com/sqH9EWIpZf
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) October 7, 2019
Trump’s legal team based their argument on a longstanding policy at the Justice Department, which states that a sitting president cannot be criminally charged while in office. But that policy only applies to the federal agency, and the standard doesn’t dictate what states can do.
Federal Judge Victor Marrero soundly rejected Trump’s lawyers’ arguments on Monday, the New York Times reported.
Trump’s legal position was “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values,” Marrero wrote in his opinion.
If left unchallenged, Marrero’s ruling would mean Mazars USA would have to turn over the documents to Vance at this time. However, an appeal is expected by Trump’s lawyers on the matter, which will likely delay, or possibly keep, the tax returns from getting into the hands of the Manhattan DA, depending on the outcome.