Thanks to last week’s U.S. Court of Appeals ruling, Donald Trump’s accounting firm Mazars will have to give eight years of his tax returns to a New York grand jury – unless the Supreme Court steps in and saves Trump, which most legal experts think is unlikely. Now a different judge has dealt a different kind of blow to Trump over his tax returns.
It’s not just the New York grand jury that’s seeking to obtain Donald Trump’s tax returns as part of its ongoing indictment process against him on state charges. House Democrats are also seeking to obtain Trump’s tax returns as part of the impeachment effort. Trump and his lawyers appear to have accepted that the grand jury is very likely to get his tax returns, so they tried filing a suit aimed at blocking New York from turning around and handing his tax returns to the House.
Predictably, that didn’t work. The federal judge who heard the case decided to tell Donald Trump to take a hike, even though the judge was appointed by Trump. So much for the fatalist notion that Trump magically has control of court rulings these days. This ruling is important because if the Supreme Court announces that it’s not going to hear Trump’s appeal, Mazars will give his tax returns to the New York grand jury immediately, which could then give the tax returns to the House immediately.
The larger story here continues to be the existence of the New York grand jury, period. Grand juries exist for the sole purpose of indicting people. The grand jury’s subpoena of Donald Trump’s tax returns means that he’s the target. New York is going to indict Trump on state charges – and based on the evidence it’s already received from people like Michael Cohen, the indictment will happen whether the tax returns are obtained or not. The only question at this point is when the indictment will be handed down. The DOJ’s policy of not indicting a sitting president does not apply to state charges.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report