New York — President Trump’s tax returns can be turned over to state criminal investigators, a federal appeals court in New York ruled Monday. The ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is certain to be challenged, follows arguments from Mr. Trump’s lawyers that he is immune from state criminal law — even if he shoots someone — because he’s commander in chief.
“Any presidential immunity does not extend to investigative steps like the grand jury subpoena at issue here,” ruled the three-judge appeals panel.
But, the judges said they only decided whether a state prosecutor can demand Mr. Trump’s personal financial records while he is in office. The appeals court said it did not consider whether the president is immune from indictment and prosecution while in office or whether the president may be ordered to produce documents in a state criminal proceeding.
After the ruling, Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, told CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid he plans to take the lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court because “the issue raised in this case go[es] to the heart of our Republic.”
The appeals panel’s decision upholds a lower-court ruling that rejected Mr. Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block his accountant from letting a grand jury see his tax records from 2011. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. sought the records in a broader probe that includes payments made to buy the silence of two women who claim they had affairs with the president before the 2016 presidential election.
While the president’s lawyers argue that the Constitution prohibits states from subjecting the U.S. president to criminal process while he is in office, Vance’s attorneys argue that the records being sought relate to business and financial matters rather than official presidential acts by Mr. Trump and primarily stem from the time period before he took office.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers argue that the probe by Vance, a Democrat, is politically motivated.
U.S. Justice Department lawyers in Washington also urged the 2nd Circuit to reverse the findings of the lower court, saying Vance must prove “particularized need” for the records before they are released to a grand jury.
Paula Reid contributed to this report.
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