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Appeals court panel rules against Trump on tax returns

Published: Monday, November 04, 2019 @ 11:53 AM

Dealing a legal setback to President Donald Trump, a three judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that a request for the President's tax returns by a county prosecutor in New York is legitimate, knocking down the arguments of Mr. Trump's legal team that he was immune from any investigations while in office.

In a 34 page decision, the judges said that "the President may not resist compliance with an otherwise valid subpoena for private and non-privileged materials simply because he is the President."

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The subpoena in question did not go directly to President Trump, but instead to the Mazars accounting firm, which has been used for years by Mr. Trump for financial services.

Not long after the decision was announced, President Trump's legal team made clear they would not drop their challenge.

During court arguments in October, the President's legal team said Mr. Trump cannot be investigated - even if he committed a murder on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

"I'm talking about while in office," Judge Denny Chin said during court arguments. "Nothing could be done - that is your position?"

"That is correct," the President's lawyer responded.

In this case, Manhattan prosecutors want documents from the Mazars accounting firm used by President Trump, as investigators want eight years of financial documents.

"The subpoena at issue is directed not to the President, but to his accountants," the judges wrote in their decision, as they said "compliance does not require the President to do anything at all."

But Mr. Trump's lawyers say a subpoena to his accounting firm is just the same as a subpoena to the President.

This case is part of a growing series of judicial fights involving the President over evidence about his tax returns, testimony by White House aides, and materials from the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

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