New York, Sep 1 (efe-epa).- A New York appeals court on Tuesday accepted a request by attorneys for President Donald Trump to temporarily delay handing over his tax returns in a case being pursued by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and linked to secret hush-money payments allegedly made by his 2016 election campaign to a porn actress.
A panel of three judges decided to rule in Trump’s favor and temporarily block the district attorney’s access to the president’s tax records dating back almost a decade in a case that has already dragged on for a year and in which the US Supreme Court rejected the argument that the president enjoys absolute immunity from any and all court cases as long as he occupies the office.
In a brief ruling, the three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York put a hold on a lower court ruling that found Vance could acquire the records immediately.
The appeals court granted the stay so it can consider Trump’s argument that the subpoena for the tax and other documents was overbroad, not to mention issued in bad faith.
The appeals court, moreover, set Sept. 25 as the date for its next hearing on the matter.
Prosecutors demanded that the firm that handled Trump’s accounting, Mazars, turn over the president’s tax information as part of an investigation into whether hush-money payments by Trump’s 2016 campaign to porn star Stormy Daniels violated state law.
Allegedly, Trump was seeking to buy Daniels’ silence regarding a sexual relationship they had had for years, a liaison which the president has always denied.
However, prosecutors noted in recently-filed court documents that their search is broader, citing – among other things – alleged securities and bank fraud committed by Trump.
On Aug. 20, Federal Judge Victor Marrero ruled in favor of Vance’s request to have Mazars turn over Trump’s tax returns immediately and said that the defense efforts not to respond to the authorities on the matter was an attempt to seek absolute immunity by the back door.
After the decision rendered on Tuesday, Trump has thus staved off for a while longer having to produce his tax records, but on Sept. 25 his attorneys will have to argue in court why those records should remain private when all other modern US presidents have agreed to make such records public and Trump himself had promised to do so before he became president.
If the appeals court rules against Trump after the Sept. 25 hearing, like the lower court did and as the appeals court did last time around, the president’s legal team’s last resort would be to turn to the US Supreme Court to block access to the documents.