AUGUST 20, 2020
A US federal judge rejected on Thursday President Donald Trump’s effort to block the release of his financial records subpoenaed by a New York grand jury in a case focused on hush money payments and possibly bank fraud.
Judge Victor Marrero of the Manhattan federal court rejected Trump’s argument that the eight years of tax records demanded by the investigating jury from his accounting firm Mazars USA was too broad and constituted political harassment of the president.
The judge also said Trump’s argument amounted to a “back door” attempt to invoke absolute immunity after the president’s lawyers’ original argument in the case was rejected by the US Supreme Court in July.
For three years Trump has been successful at fending off Congressional demands for his records in investigations targeting his financial ties to Russians, his possible record of tax avoidance and other issues involving his Trump organization real estate business.
But in 2019 New York federal district attorney Cyrus Vance opened a probe into Trump’s payments in 2016 to allegedly buy the silence of two women who claimed to have had affairs with him.
Court documents have suggested that Vance’s grand jury probe has now expanded to possible banking and insurance fraud.
Marrero suggested that Trump’s most recent arguments were simply an effort to delay the proceedings, potentially running out the clock on time limits for prosecutions, and risking the loss of witnesses.
Still, the ruling was not likely to force the release of Trump’s records before the November presidential election.
Trump can appeal the ruling, a process that could easily be stretched out over the next three months.