Trump Scores A Victory In Bicoastal Battle Over Tax Returns

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President Donald Trump talks with reporters as he tours a section of the southern border wall, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Otay Mesa, Calif. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Sacramento – President Donald Trump’s efforts to keep his tax returns private played out on both coasts Thursday, with a California judge handing him an initial victory and his lawyers in New York City arguing that federal prosecutors there are trying “to harass” him by seeking the documents.

On the West Coast, a federal judge in Sacramento granted the Trump campaign’s request to block a new California law that requires presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns to run in the state’s March 2020 primaries. State officials are deciding whether to appeal.

The ruling came hours after the president sued to block New York prosecutors from their push to obtain his returns as part of a criminal investigation into payments made to two women who claimed to have affairs with Trump.

The two Democratic-led states have emerged as Trump’s most ardent foes, fighting not just for his tax returns but repeatedly suing his administration over his environmental, immigration and other policies.

In California, Democrats have argued that the president’s tax returns provide critical information about his financial history and business dealings. While the New York battle is part of a criminal investigation, lawmakers there also have pushed for the disclosure of his state returns, drawing another Trump lawsuit.

“States have a legal and moral duty to restore public confidence in government and ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards,” said Jesse Melgar, a spokesman for Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

He did not address whether California plans to appeal the ruling. Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who’s in charge of elections, said the state will consider its options when the judge releases a written ruling by Oct. 1.

In court in Sacramento, Trump’s lawyers conceded that the president would likely forgo the state’s primary ballot rather than release his returns. U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. questioned why releasing tax returns was such a hurdle but was ultimately open to arguments opposing the law.

He appeared swayed by arguments that the U.S. Constitution, not states, sets the qualifications to run for president and that a federal law requiring candidates to release financial information supersedes the state’s power to seek additional details.

“I don’t care how you skin the cat, it’s an unconstitutional law,” said Harmeet Dhillon, who represented the state and national Republican parties.

Trump counsel Jay Sekulow said he was “encouraged” by the tentative ruling.

Republican lawyers also eagerly pointed to California’s former Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat who vetoed a similar law in 2017. Brown argued it would create a slippery slope that could lead states to impose requirements like medical records or college transcripts.

“The elephant in the room is President Trump’s tax returns — that’s what this is about,” Judge England said. “But it does have implications that are far reaching.”

The state’s lawyers said it’s within California’s power to regulate its primary elections, and it called the requirement a measure of ballot access, not a new qualification to run for president.

“We remain firm in our belief that SB 27 is constitutional and provides invaluable transparency for voters as they decide who will hold the most powerful office in the United States,” Padilla, the secretary of state, said in a statement.

In New York, Trump’s attorneys on Thursday sued Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who recently subpoenaed the president’s accounting firm for eight years of state and federal tax returns.

They called the subpoena a “bad faith effort to harass” Trump and said Vance, a Democrat, had overstepped his constitutional authority.

Unlike in California, the New York case is part of a criminal investigation and a grand jury issued the subpoenas.

A spokesman for Vance said his office had received the lawsuit “and will respond as appropriate in court.”

Democratic-led congressional committees also are trying to obtain Trump’s tax returns and other records that could provide a window into his finances. Trump and three of his children sued in April seeking to block two House committees from getting records that his longtime lender, Deutsche Bank, has said include tax returns.

(AP)

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Good it’s non of anyone’s businesses how much money he made or whether he made that money in Russia or not .

    So why not release the returns ? What’s he hiding ? I hear those silly cries all the time . Let’s address it
    1) As trump said he paid the least taxes ever . It’s no shame . That’s the law of the land . Smart people don’t pay taxes . But you guys would pounce all over it
    2) as part of #1 effort it will show he is poor and not wealthy . Accounting is complex but based on depreciation and leverage you are allowed to say you are poor when you are rich . That’s way to complex for you silly lay men . Plus the way fake news works is they would only report half the facts , the part that makes him look poor .
    3) He did business in Russia etc … No he is not compromised bec he has done money there . He is allowed to do business in any non sanctioned country . But you fake newsters will be all over him

    So yes plenty of reasons not to release his returns . And too bad you guys ain’t getting your fat hands on it before 2020

    • Just think of how much time and legal resources are being devoted by this administration to keeping secret information routinely released by prior administrations or, as is the case in the current whistle blower fauda, statutorily required to be released (in this case to Congressional Intelligence Committees). It’s truly unprecedented.

      And you Archy, your positions mean less and less…on just about all matters your point of departure is that Trump is correct, and then you merely spin any and all facts around that point of departure. That certainly doesn’t require any analysis or critical thinking, and that absence of critical analysis makes me wonder how you ever could have benefited from learning!

      • Yes its unprecedented for a few reasons.
        1) Trump’s business dealings are far more complex than other prior presidents who say maybe owned a peanut farm vs towers?
        2) The Trump presidency and win is unprecedented.
        3)The extent of his opponents hate is unprecedented as they still can’t concede the 2016 elections
        4) yes I’lll agree that guy is not the most honest and surely not a moral person. I’d never want my kids to behave like him. Contrary to the nonsense you spew he is not my role model. He did lots of shtick in his business and so yes it needs to be secretive. As Cory his associate said he is OK with lying. That’s what we need now. We need an unmoral CEO to kick and shake up things. We need someone to rip apart muslims, climate change and all the other lies and nonsense in the swamp.

        And you YONI your positions mean less and less…on just about all matters your point of departure is that Trump is INCORRECT. You then merely spin your facts.
        You see we had this debate a while ago. i am willing to list a few things where i think trump is wrong. Like I do not go for his strong anti Latino langauge as I see the Latino migrant issue purley as a monetary issue where they are just looking to milk the system. We and certainly I would do the same if i was poor like them. But I don’t like the demeaning of them. I also don’t like the strong anti gun control erhtoric esp around the second amendment. Who cares about the law if people are dying due to the law?

        No lets hear one thing you approve of Trump or you are a hypocrite..

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