Judge throws out challenge to Manhattan DA subpoena

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 19, 2020.

Tom Brenner | Reuters

President Donald Trump’s effort to fight a subpoena for his tax records issued by the Manhattan district attorney was rejected on Thursday by a federal judge in New York, handing another loss to the president in a high-profile case that has already made its way to the Supreme Court. 

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said that the president failed to show that the subpoena would pose an unfair burden, siding in favor of Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance, Jr., who has said his office is pursuing an investigation of potential violations of state law.

The subpoena, directed to the president’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA, seeks the president’s personal and business records, including tax returns, dating to 2011. 

The ruling comes a month after the Supreme Court rejected the president’s earlier claims of absolute immunity from state criminal subpoenas. While the top court rejected the immunity argument, it said the president was entitled to object to the subpoena on alternative grounds. 

Marrero wrote that he could not “mechanically credit” the president’s arguments that the subpoena was “unduly burdensome and motivated by bad faith,” likening the president’s argument to “absolute immunity through a back door.”

The case was dismissed with prejudice, effectively preventing the president from bringing new arguments to the court for why the subpoena should not be enforced. An attorney for the president did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Vance has been relatively opaque about the subject of his investigation. His office is known to be investigating how the president’s company, the Trump Organization, accounted for a hush money payment to the porn actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges that she had sex with the president. Trump has denied the affair. In a filing earlier in August, Vance suggested he could also be pursuing an inquiry into potential bank and insurance fraud. 

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