Politics

Judge orders Manhattan DA, Trump lawyers to detail next steps in tax records case after big Supreme Court ruling

Key Points
  • A federal judge ordered the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and President Donald Trump's lawyers to inform him if further court proceedings are needed after the Supreme Court ruled that Trump cannot summarily block prosecutors from getting his tax records.
  • The president had fought a grand jury subpoena for the records, which was issued at DA Cyrus Vance Jr.'s request.
  • Vance wants the documents for an investigation into whether the Trump Organization improperly accounted for a hush money payment by Trump's then-lawyer Michael Cohen before the 2016 presidential election to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who claims she had sex with Trump
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance arrives at federal court for a hearing related to President Donald Trump's financial records on October 23, 2019 in New York City.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and President Donald Trump's lawyers to inform him whether further court proceedings are needed after the Supreme Court ruled that Trump cannot summarily block prosecutors from getting his tax records and other financial documents from his accountant.

The judge, Victor Marrero, also told the parties to lay out "potential areas for further argument" over a grand jury subpoena for the documents if they are unable to put the matter to rest.

Trump had fought a grand jury subpoena for the records, which was issued at District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s request. The president's lawyer indicated Thursday that he will continue an effort in federal court to prevent Vance from getting them.

Trump's lawyer had argued to the Supreme Court that a president is immune not only from prosecution, but even from a criminal investigation while serving in the White House.

But the Supreme Court on Thursday said that Trump has no such immunity from grand jury subpoenas, paving the way for the accounting Mazars USA to ultimately turn over the documents.

"No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority in the 7-2 ruling.

The decision left the door open for Trump to continue to fight the subpoena in lower courts by challenging it as being unduly burdensome or extensive.

Trump also "can challenge the subpoena as an attempt to influence the performance of his official duties, in violation of the Supremacy Clause" of the Constitution, the Supreme Court ruling noted.

"And he can argue that compliance with a particular subpoena would impede his constitutional duties."

But the president may have difficulty in getting lower courts to restrict the scope of the subpoena, given the adverse court rulings on the issue that he has seen to date.

On the same day as the ruling on the Vance subpoena, the Supreme Court overturned lower court rulings that supported demands by House Democrats for financial documents related to Trump. The Supreme Court ordered lower courts to more carefully consider concerns about the separation of powers in deciding whether several House committees can get the requested documents.

Marrero, who sits in Manhattan federal court, on his own accord Friday issued an order to Vance's office and Trump's lawyers saying "the parties are hereby ordered to jointly inform the Court by the morning of July 15, 2020 whether further proceedings will be necessary in light of the dispositions by the Courts above."

Marrero said the "joint submission should outline potential areas for further argument."

He also scheduled a telephone conference, if necessary, to discuss the parties' position on whether future proceedings are needed, and a proposed schedule for those hearings.

Trump's lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said in an email, "We will respond as appropriate" to Marrero's order.

Sekulow on Thursday had said after the Supreme Court ruling, "We will now proceed to raise additional Constitutional and legal issues in the lower courts."

Vance's spokesman, Danny Frost, declined to comment on Marrero's order.

VIDEO2:1902:19
Supreme Court says Manhattan district attorney can get Trump tax records

Vance wants the tax records for an ongoing investigation into whether, at the very least, the Trump Organization improperly accounted for a hush money payment by Trump's then-lawyer Michael Cohen shortly before the 2016 presidential election to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who claims she had sex with Trump one time more than a decade earlier.

Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in regard to that and another payment to a second woman, Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claims to have had an affair with Trump, was reimbursed by the president and the Trump Organization.

Trump denies having sex with either woman.

Cohen, 53, had been serving a three-year prison sentence until late May, when he was furloughed because of his risk of contracting the coronavirus.

On Thursday, Cohen was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals and later sent back to a prison in Otisville, New York, after the Bureau of Prisons said he had refused to agree to a location monitoring agreement, which included a provision that would have barred Cohen from speaking to reporters or publishing a book.

Cohen's lawyer said he did not refuse to sign that agreement, and was seeking to modify the media gag order provision at the time he was abruptly taken into custody.