A federal appeals court ruled on Monday against President Donald Trump and his attorneys’ efforts to block a subpoena issued by a New York district attorney (DA) for his tax returns, The Hill reported, setting up a likely appeal for a final showdown on the matter before the U.S. Supreme Court.
That same outlet has now reported separately that Trump’s attorneys informed the court on Friday that an appeal to the Supreme Court will be formally filed by Nov. 14 following an agreement reached by both sides of the matter to fast-track the case toward a final determination.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals — all appointees of former President Barack Obama — ruled earlier in the week that President Trump did not have the right to block subpoenas issued against a third party, even if the information sought by those subpoenas was directly related to him, according to NBC News.
The judges wrote that “presidential immunity does not bar the enforcement of a state grand jury subpoena directing a third party to produce non-privileged material, even when the subject matter under investigation pertains to the [p]resident.”
At the heart of the matter was a subpoena issued by the Manhattan district attorney against an accounting firm used by Trump for his state tax returns, part of that DA’s openly-stated and partisan efforts to find dirt on the president.
It is noteworthy that while the court refused to issue an injunction on the subpoenas issued by District Attorney Cyrus Vance, the DA voluntarily agreed to hold off on pursuing the matter until a final resolution was obtained following an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Court deals blow to Trump
The court found that the effort to receive the tax returns could move forward over Trump’s objections and at least in part seemed to reject the long-understood notion that a sitting president was immune from criminal prosecution — which is the ultimate goal of the Manhattan DA.
Though the judges didn’t weigh in specifically on Trump’s claim of immunity, they did rule that his immunity did not extend to third parties in such a manner as to be able to block the subpoenas.
“There is no obvious reason why a state could not begin to investigate a President during his term and, with the information secured during that search, ultimately determine to prosecute him after he leaves office,” the opinion read, according to The Washington Post.
Democrats and Trump’s opponents have been seeking access to his tax returns since before he was even elected to office, a demand with which Trump has refused to comply.
To be sure, there is a slim 5–4 conservative-leaning majority on the Supreme Court, and thus, the odds seem to be on the president’s side for a favorable resolution.
That said, there is really no telling how any of the justices will rule on this particular matter, and there certainly remains a possibility that some of the Republican-appointed jurists could rule against him and allow New York to obtain the long-sought tax returns and ultimately use them for partisan purposes.