- The Washington Times - Monday, November 4, 2019

A federal appeals court rejected President Trump’s claim Monday that he can’t be the subject of a criminal investigation while in office, upholding a lower court ruling ordering him to hand over his tax returns and prompting the president to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. sought the president’s tax records from his accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP, in connection to an investigation of hush money payments to two women who say they had affairs with Mr. Trump before he became president.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that said Mr. Trump can’t block the grand jury from obtaining the records.

The three-judge panel rejected the argument of “presidential immunity” shielding Mr. Trump from the New York state investigation and declined to grant the president an injunction.

“Any presidential immunity from state criminal process does not extend to investigative steps like the grand jury subpoena at issue here,” the court ruled.

Jay Sekulow, Mr. Trump’s attorney, told reporters they will appeal the decision.

“The decision of the 2nd Circuit will be taken to the Supreme Court,” Mr. Sekulow said. “The issue raised in this case goes to the heart of our republic. The constitutional issues are significant.”

Mr. Vance’s office declined to comment.

A New York grand jury is considering whether state law was broken in connection to the payments. The district attorney sought tax records dating to 2011.

Mr. Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance violations, among other charges, in connection to payments made to porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who both said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

The payments were reportedly made while Mr. Trump was running for president, about 10 years after the alleged affairs happened.

Critics of the president argue that the payments should have been reported according to election law.

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