NEW YORK (AP) – President Donald Trump’s accountant must turn over his tax documents to a New York state attorney, an appeals court ruled Wednesday in a decision likely to include a second trip to the US Supreme Court on the matter.
The US Circuit Second Court of Appeals in Manhattan said in a written decision that a suspension of a lower court decision will remain in effect so that Trump’s lawyers can appeal the ruling to the high court.
In August, a district court judge rejected their renewed efforts to invalidate a subpoena that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office issued last year to Trump’s accounting firm.
Part of Vance’s investigation involves an investigation into the earnings of two women – porn actress Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal – to keep them quiet during the 2016 presidential campaign over alleged extramarital affairs with Trump. Trump has denied things.
Vance is looking for more than eight years of the Republican president’s personal and corporate tax records, but has revealed little about what prompted him to request the documents. In a recent court statement, Vance’s attorneys said it was justified to ask for them because of public reports of “extensive and prolonged criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said the Department is reviewing the ruling.
The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 against the president in July, rejecting Trump’s arguments that he can’t even be investigated, let alone charged with any crime, while he’s in office. But the court said Trump can challenge the subpoena on other grounds, like anyone else who receives a subpoena.
The likelihood of the taxes being freed was unlikely to be resolved before the November election, especially as the high court dropped to eight judges after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And any release would not involve immediate public disclosure, as grand jury proceedings are secret.
Through his lawyers, Trump argued that the subpoena was issued in bad faith, may have been politically motivated and harassed him, especially since the wording copied the language in Congressional citations. The lawyers also said that the request for tax documents dating back to 2011 was a “fishing expedition” and the excessive request should be rejected.
In its decision, the 2nd Circuit did not agree.
“We believe that none of the president’s allegations, taken together or separately, are sufficient to raise a plausible deduction that the summons was issued ‘for malice or intent to harass,'” the appellate court said.
In documents filed with the 2nd Circuit, Vance’s attorneys cited public reports including news reports and Congressional testimony from former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen, claiming it was common for the Trump organization to present falsified financial documents when the company took out loans.
Vance’s attorneys wrote that if Trump and his entities make inaccurate claims about corporate property, wherever they are, to business partners, insurers, potential financiers or New York-based tax authorities, such errors could constitute criminal offenses including forgery of business documents, insurance and tax fraud and plotting to defraud.
Last month, The New York Times reported that it obtained over two decades of tax return data for Trump and hundreds of his companies. He said he only paid $ 750 in federal income tax the year he entered the White House and no income tax in 11 out of 18 was revised.
At the time, Trump dismissed the report as “fake news” and claimed he had paid the taxes, but did not provide any details.
Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.