Sep 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Appeals panel halts ruling allowing subpoena for Trump tax returns

Trump
Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images

A federal appeals panel on Tuesday temporarily blocked a lower court ruling that would have forced President Trump to comply with a subpoena from Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance for eight years of his financial records.

What to watch: The panel set oral arguments for Trump's appeal for Sept. 25. Trump's lawyers have already signaled their intention to appeal to the Supreme Court if they lose, further extending the legal fight that began last September.

The big picture: The Supreme Court ruled in July that presidents are not immune from investigation and that Vance had the legal right to subpoena Trump's financial institutions, but it sent the case back down to lower courts so that Trump's lawyers could raise other objections.

  • A federal judge threw out Trump's lawsuit last month, dismissing the theory of "absolute immunity" from investigation argued by the president's lawyers as "perilous to the rule of law."
  • Trump's lawyers immediately appealed, and a three-judge panel from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals heard brief arguments on Monday before issuing its temporary stay.
  • Worth noting: Even if Vance is allowed to enforce the subpoena, grand jury secrecy laws would prevent Trump's tax returns from becoming public.

Between the lines: In a disclosure last month, Vance's office suggested for the first time that it's investigating Trump and his company for "alleged bank and insurance fraud."

  • The filing pointed to media reports about "possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization" to support Vance's argument about the legitimacy of the subpoena, which Trump's lawyers had argued was over-broad and issued in bad faith.
  • Previously, Vance was only thought to be investigating hush-money payments that Trump made to women he allegedly had affairs with through his former personal attorney Michael Cohen.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

Go deeper