A federal appeals court has rejected President Donald Trump's effort to block NY prosecutors from obtaining his tax returns amid a claim of "presidential immunity", setting the stage for a showdown in the Supreme Court.
The ruling by a unanimous three-judge panel of the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals backed the ability of prosecutors to enforce a subpoena for the returns against accounting firm Mazars LLP.
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 decision of the Second Circuit will be taken to the Supreme Court", Sekulow said following the judges' ruling on Monday.
A spokesman for Mr. Vance said the office had no comment on the appeals court decision. They've claimed that any criminal investigation -state, local, or federal - touching Trump while he is in office is unconstitutional.
© Drew Angerer/Getty Images The office of Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, subpoenaed eight years of the president's personal and corporate tax returns in late August. "The issue raised in this case goes to the heart of our republic".
"We view the entire subpoena as an inappropriate fishing expedition not made in good faith", William S. Consovoy, one of Mr. Trump's lawyers, told the appeals panel at oral arguments. They asserted that presidents have such unique power and responsibility that they can not be subject to the burden of investigations, especially from local prosecutors who may use the criminal process for political gain.
It was just two weeks ago when Donald Trump's lawyers, hired specifically to keep the president's tax returns hidden, made a highly provocative argument to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.
Trump's tax returns are included in the request. Trump has denied having sexual relationships with the two women. The president's legal team is expected to appeal the decision.
Vance has agreed not to enforce the subpoena while Trump petitions the supreme court.
He added: "The court can not square a vision of presidential immunity that would place the president above the law".
Until the president leaves office, "his exemption from criminal proceedings would extend not only to matters arising from the performance of the President's duties and functions in his official capacity, but also to ones arising from his private affairs, financial transactions, and all other conduct undertaken by him as an ordinary citizen both during and before his tenure in office", the ruling said.
The federal judges, however, refused to take a position on claims by Trump's attorneys that as America's leader he is immune from any criminal investigation.
The president is fighting similar attempts by congressional Democrats to obtain his tax records.