A federal appeals court in New York ruled on Monday that the president of the United States is not immune to criminal proceedings in state courts, setting up what may become a Constitutional question for the Supreme Court to decide.
In the unanimous decision by a panel of three judges, the court found that Trump’s attempts to prevent Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. from subpoenaing his tax records from the accounting firm Mazars USA, CNBC reported.
Lawyers for Trump had tried to argue that efforts by Vance to secure those documents could be blocked due to a Department of Justice policy at the federal level that states a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime. Notably, one of the lawyers for Trump had attempted to argue within the court proceedings that Trump could even get away with shooting a person in broad daylight, alluding to a statement Trump had made during his 2016 campaign regarding his supporters’ love for him.
But the DOJ policy does not extend to the states, the court found, and Vance’s attempts to attain the records were deemed proper in their ruling.
Vance had wanted to get the tax records in order to ascertain whether Trump committed business fraud by possibly listing a reimbursed payment to his then-lawyer Michael Cohen over a hush-money payment to adult film actor Stormy Daniels, whom Trump is alleged to have had an affair with.
Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow suggested the president would appeal the decision directly to the nation’s highest court in the coming days.
“The decision of the Second Circuit will be taken to the Supreme Court,” Sekulow said in a statement. “The issue raised in this case goes to the heart of our Republic. The constitutional issues are significant.”
The High Court currently leans conservative, with five justices having been appointed by Republican presidents and four having been put in place by Democratic ones. Two of the Republican-appointed justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were chosen by Trump himself to sit on the Supreme Court.