Donald Trump’s accounting firm must hand over eight years of his tax returns to New York prosecutors, a US appeals court ruled on Monday in the latest setback for Trump in his attempts to keep his finances secret.
The ruling by the New York-based second US circuit court of appeals backed the ability of prosecutors to enforce a subpoena for the returns against accounting firm Mazars.
Trump is expected to appeal again, precluding the immediate release of the information and setting the stage for a showdown at the US supreme court.
The office of Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat, is seeking the returns as part of a criminal investigation into Trump and his family real estate business. The scope of that investigation is not publicly known.
Last month, a lower-court judge ruled that the president’s claim to immunity while in office was “repugnant”.
US district judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan described the immunity argument as “extraordinary” and “an overreach of executive power [that was] repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values”.
He added: “The court cannot square a vision of presidential immunity that would place the president above the law.”
Vance’s office has agreed not to enforce the subpoena while Trump petitions the supreme court. Under the agreement, Trump now has 10 business days to file that petition.
The highest court has a 5-4 conservative majority including two justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who were appointed by Trump.
Since Richard Nixon, presidential candidates have released their tax records by precedent rather than legal compulsion.
Since announcing his run for the White House in 2015, Trump has often said he will release his information after the completion of an audit. An audit does not preclude the release of such information.
As well as attempts to obtain financial information, Trump faces an impeachment inquiry in the Democratic-led House.