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Trump Files Emergency Appeal in Tax Return Case, But Attorneys Don’t See Much Chance of Success


Attorneys representing President Donald Trump have once again asked a federal appellate court to intervene in what may be the final chance to keep the president’s financial records private. Trump on Thursday filed an emergency appeal with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals just minutes after a federal judge in New York City dismissed the president’s second attempt to withhold his tax returns and other financial records from Manhattan Attorney General Cy Vance. However, as the issue has already been heavily scrutinized and indeed reached the Supreme Court earlier this summer, most attorneys believe the latest appeal has very little chance of success.

Southern District of New York (SDNY) Judge Victor Marrero issued a lengthy 103-page decision and order dismissing Trumps case, reasoning that the president did little more than reassert the “absolute immunity” argument that had already been rejected by the Supreme Court.

“Although the Supreme Court’s opinion roundly denied the President’s invocation of generalized categorical immunity to justify his refusal to comply with the state grand jury subpoena, in the [second amended complaint] the President has asserted claims the tenor and practical effect of which could be to engender a form of presidential immunity by default,” Marrero noted. “[T]he President challenges the validity and enforceability of the grand jury subpoena at issue, claiming that it is overly broad and was issued in bad faith.”

Marrero, seemingly anticipating that Trump would appeal his decision, addressed the issue head-on, saying that the issue had been thoroughly debated before several courts and was no longer deserving of additional court resources.

“In the prior proceedings, the President raised substantially the same or similar arguments, which the Court rejected,” Marrero wrote.

“To that extent, the SAC in substantial part merely reiterates factual allegations made in the President’s prior complaint. The revised pleadings thus prompted a motion to dismiss the action, hence calling upon the Court to devote considerable judicial resources to consider again a fact pattern it believes the parties had thoroughly argued and the Court had substantially addressed.”

Pointing to this passage, Supreme Court litigator and former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal said it’s likely that Trumps appeal will only cause minimal delays to Vance ultimately obtaining the records.

“This is why any appeal by Trump should move in days. It should be briefed and argued by the end of this month. 3 days per side tops. The American people have waited long enough, Trump’s tactics here are all about delay, he’s been stalling for over a year now,” Katyal tweeted. “Trump has only himself to blame for the timing. If material goes to Grand Jury before the election, that’s a consequence of his past gamesmanship. We’ve briefed presidential election disputes+major constitutional battles in far less time. This is easy. Trump delay tactics shouldn’t be rewarded.”

Former United States Attorney Joyce Vance White had a similar take, saying Trump’s financial records would inevitably end up in Vance’s hands.

“Judge: Manhattan DA can get Trump’s tax records from Mazars. There may be an appeal, which means a little delay, but it’s all over except the shouting. Trump’s taxes will be in the hands of prosecutors either shortly before or after the election,” she wrote.

[image via Jeff J Mitchell – Pool /Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.