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Listen: Audio of Oral Arguments in Trump Tax Return Case


The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted the public some unusual access to a high-profile proceeding, namely oral arguments in Trump v. Vance.

Listen in the player above.

Related to today’s events … Tax Return Hearing: Trump’s Attorneys Argue He Could Literally Shoot Someone and Not Be Prosecuted Because He’s President

Let’s run it down quickly. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance in August subpoenaed eight years of President Donald Trump’s personal and business tax returns from Trump’s finance firm Mazars USA. Trump and his lawyers filed a lawsuit, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero denied the president’s request to prevent Vance from enforcing the subpoenas — potentially opening the door to state criminal prosecution. Judge Marrero rejected the “extraordinary claim” that Trump is completely immune from the criminal process.

“As the Court reads it, presidential immunity would stretch to cover every phase of the criminal proceedings, including investigations, grand jury proceedings and subpoenas, indictment, prosecution, arrest, trial, conviction, and incarceration,” he said. “That constitutional protection presumably would encompass any conduct, at any time, in any forum, whether federal or state, and whether the President acted alone or in concert with other individuals.”

Trump attorneys filed an appeal after the Marrero decision and appear prepared to keep making the same absolute immunity argument, however.

“The district court’s decision is the first to relegate a sitting President’s federal claim to state court, and the first to hold that a State can criminally prosecute a sitting President. It should be reversed, and the subpoena should be stayed pending appeal and Supreme Court review,” they wrote in the appeal.

Vance’s prosecutors interviewed incarcerated former Trump attorney Michael Cohen in August to determine whether the Trump Organization violated state laws (created false business records) with hush payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels. The prosecutors visited Cohen “soon after they subpoenaed the Trump Organization and American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, and interviewed Michael Cohen about this,” CNN reported previously on the matter.

The investigation followed the Southern District of New York (SDNY) closing its hush money probe. Cohen was the only person to do time as a result of the federal probe of the hush payments. Cohen is currently serving out a three-year prison sentence in Otisville, New York after pleading guilty in the SDNY to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and bank fraud.

[image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.