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Appeals Court Rules Trump's Accountants Must Turn Over Tax Records

An appeals court has ruled President Trump's accounting firm must turn over his tax returns to the Manhattan district attorney.
Manuel Balce Ceneta
An appeals court has ruled President Trump's accounting firm must turn over his tax returns to the Manhattan district attorney.

President Trump has lost another legal fight in his efforts to keep his tax returns private. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that Trump's accounting firm must turn over the returns to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

The president will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, said Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's outside attorneys.

"The decision of the Second Circuit will be taken to the Supreme Court. The issue raised in this case goes to the heart of our Republic. The constitutional issues are significant," said Sekulow in a statement.

Vance has sought the records as part of an investigation into whether two women who said they had affairs with Trump were paid for their silence before the 2016 election.

The appellate court's order upholds a U.S. District Court order from last month requiring Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, to turn over Trump's personal and business tax returns starting from 2011.

As a candidate and as president, Trump has broken from long-standing practice to make his returns public. Unlike other past presidents, Trump has also not divested from his business interests.

Trump's attorneys claim that as president, he is immune from criminal investigation. A lower court found that argument "repugnant to the nation's fundamental structure and constitutional values."

The appeals court did not rule on the merits of that claim but said that because Vance's office was seeking the records from Trump's accounting firm, and not the president, the question of immunity was not a factor.

"The subpoena at issue is directed not to the President, but to his accountants; compliance does not require the President to do anything at all," wrote Judge Robert Katzman on behalf of the three-judge panel.

Vance's office is looking into whether any New York state laws were broken when Trump's then-attorney, Michael Cohen, arranged payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the closing weeks of the 2016 election. Trump has denied having sexual relationships with the two women.

The president is also fighting efforts by the House of Representatives to obtain his tax records.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.
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