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Trump asks US Supreme Court to prevent release of his tax returns

US presidents asks court to throw out lower court ruling

President Donald Trump appeals against his tax return ruling. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Donald Trump appeals against his tax return ruling. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Donald Trump on Thursday asked the US Supreme Court to reverse a court ruling directing his accountants to hand over eight years of his tax returns to New York prosecutors.

Mr Trump appealed against a November 4 ruling by the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, which said prosecutors could enforce a subpoena demanding his personal and corporate tax returns from 2011 to 2018.

"In our petition, we assert that the subpoena violates the US Constitution and therefore is unenforceable," said Jay Sekulow, one of Mr Trump's lawyers.

"We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will grant review in this significant constitutional case and reverse the dangerous and damaging decision of the Appeals Court."

The legal questions include whether the subpoena breaches the part of the US Constitution that details the president's power.

The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat, is seeking the returns as part of a criminal investigation into Mr Trump, his organisation, and his family property business.

Mr Trump's lawyers have said he cannot be subjected to any criminal process while he remains president, in a broad interpretation of presidential immunity.

Even if he is not immune, the subpoena is not valid because Mr Vance has not shown any specific need for the information, Mr Trump's lawyers argued.

"There has been broad bipartisan agreement, for decades if not for centuries, that a sitting president cannot be subjected to criminal proceedings," they wrote.

Mr Vance's investigation involves alleged hush money payments to two women before the 2016 election. They said they had sexual relationships with Mr Trump, which he denies.

If the justices decline to hear Mr Trump's appeal, the lower court ruling would stand, clearing the way for Mr Vance to obtain the documents.

If they opt to take up the appeal, they must then decide whether to hear the case in their current term, which ends in June, or in their next term, which begins in October 2020.

The latter would probably push any decision back until after the November 2020 presidential election.

Updated: November 15, 2019 04:02 AM

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