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Federal Judge Rules Trump Must Turn Over His Taxes to Prosecutors

The Manhattan district attorney will now gain access to 8 years of Trump's tax returns.

Donald Trump yells outdoors.

A federal judge has rejected Donald Trump’s appeal to block the Manhattan district attorney’s subpoena of his tax returns. The ruling deals a devastating blow to Trump, whose case was previously rejected by the Supreme Court in a 7-2 decision earlier this summer. Trump has been fighting against the subpoena for over a year, which would require him to turn over 8 years of tax returns and additional financial documents. The president has refused to make his tax returns public ever since he announced his presidential bid in 2015, making him the first major party nominee since 1976 to do so.

The ruling was handed down by Judge Victor Marrero of Federal District Court in Manhattan, who was appointed to his post by President Bill Clinton in 1999. Marrero wrote, “At its core, it amounts to absolute immunity through a back door,” rejecting Trump’s attorney’s claims that the subpoena was “wildly overbroad” and an act of harassment from congressional Democrats. Marrero rejected those claims, writing that the subpoena does not “automatically transform into an incidence of incapacitating harassment and ill will merely because the proceedings potentially may implicate the president.” He added, “Justice requires an end to this controversy.”

The core of Marrero’s and the Supreme Court’s argument is simple: no one, not even the president, is above the law. And while the Supreme Court’s ruling would have allowed Trump’s lawyers to delay the subpoena until after the election, Marrero’s ruling could mean that the subpoena could be enforced as early as next week.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is focusing on whether Trump or the Trump Organization violated state and tax laws in paying hush money to the various women who claim they had affairs with Trump. Trump and his camp have already filed for an emergency appeal with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In response to the ruling, Trump told reporters, “This is a continuation of the witch hunt, the greatest witch hunt in history. There’s never been anything like it.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers have continued to argue that the president is somehow immune from the law, a standpoint that Judge Marrero had previously rejected when the case was presented in his court last year. Marrero wrote that the idea of presidential immunity was “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.”

His ruling is similar to that of the Supreme Court’s majority ruling written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, which read “No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding.”

Between the court’s ruling and Steve Bannon’s arrest, tonight is shaping up to be quite the closer for the Democratic National Convention’s argument against re-electing Donald Trump.

(via New York Times, image: Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.