This morning Federal Judge Victor Marrero issued an emphatic ruling that accounting firm Mazars must immediately turn over eight years of Donald Trump’s tax returns to the Manhattan District Attorney. Trump has since convinced an appeals court to issue a temporary stay while it decides whether to hear the case. Whether Trump wins or loses the appeal, there are two key things that shouldn’t be overlooked here.
First, this ruling doesn’t require Donald Trump to turn over his own tax returns, or the Trump-controlled Treasury Department to cough them up. It orders a private accounting firm to do so. If Trump exhausts his appeals, Mazars will almost surly comply with the ruling, as it’s hard to imagine that the executives at the accounting firm are willing to be arrested for contempt of court just to protect Trump. So if Trump loses this one, he really does lose.
Second, don’t overlook why this is all happening. The Manhattan District Attorney convinced a grand jury to subpoena Trump’s tax returns from Mazars, which is where the court battle came from. This means a New York grand jury is targeting Trump for criminal indictment. Even if Trump wins the appeal and the grand jury never gets his tax returns, it’ll still indict Trump on already-substantiated crimes such as his hush money scandal, the mortgage and insurance fraud that Michael Cohen helped expose, and so on.
The bottom line is that Donald Trump is going to be arrested on state charges the minute he’s no longer president, and he knows it. Those charges can’t be pardoned by him or any future president. He can’t just walk away from the presidency; he has to try to cut some kind of resignation plea deal on his way out the door, in exchange for reduced criminal charges. His increasingly deranged antics could be an attempt on his part at scaring America into giving him a more lenient resignation plea deal just to get rid of him sooner.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report