Another Day, Another Court Kicking Trump In The D*ck
If your particular kink is watching Donald Trump get spanked by a federal judge, then today is your lucky day! A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Donald Trump is not above the law, and he needs to back off and let the accountants hand his tax returns over to a New York state grand jury. Apparently, they didn't buy the argument that Donald Trump could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and it would be illegal for the police to investigate it while he's in office.
Yes, his lawyers argued that. LITERALLY.
There are so many Trump tax cases at various stages of litigation, it's hard to keep them straight. This one arises out of a New York State investigation into the $130,000 hush money payment that Michael Cohen fronted to Stormy Daniels during the campaign to keep her quiet about bumping bits with Trump's Yeti pubes. Cohen was later reimbursed with checks from Donald Trump's trust and/or business, with additional money added on to cover his tax liability, since he needed to earn $260,000 pre-tax to cover the $130,000 illegal, undisclosed gift to Trump during the campaign.
We know that Trump was aware of the payments, since we've seen the checks with his signature on them.
What we don't know is whether he or the Trump Organization deducted the money paid to Cohen as a business expense, which might well be a crime. And while grand jury proceedings are secret, that's probably what Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance is after when he demands eight years of back taxes. Although, let's be honest, once New York prosecutors get their hands on those returns, they're going to go over it with a fine tooth comb, and if they find anything remotely criminal, it's coming out. Which is exactly why Trump has fought like hell to stop it happening.
On October 23, US District Judge Victor Marrero issued a two-part holding. In the first part, he held that the federal court had no jurisdiction over the state prosecutor, and thus could not enjoin Mazars from cooperating with a New York State subpoena. The independence of state courts from federal supervision is known as the Younger abstention, and Judge Marrero found that it did apply to this case. But in the second part of his ruling, Judge Marrero pre-drafted an opinion saying that Trump's argument of absolute presidential immunity was total horseshit. So if an appeals court should find that Younger abstention was not applicable, the case wouldn't have to be remanded for another opinion.
And that's exactly what happened today. The Second Circuit said, basically, the president is so important that he's more or less entitled to federal jurisdiction, overturning that part of Judge Marrero's ruling. But it affirmed the second half, finding that the president's business cannot claim immunity from criminal process simply as a perk of office.
We have no occasion to decide today the precise contours and limitations of presidential immunity from prosecution, and we express no opinion on the applicability of any such immunity under circumstances not presented here. Instead, after reviewing historical and legal precedent, we conclude only that presidential immunity does not bar the enforcement of a state grand jury subpoena directing a third party to produce non‐privileged material, even when the subject matter under investigation pertains to the President.
Now, before we get too excited, let's point out that this is a very narrow opinion. It doesn't say that Trump has to answer a state subpoena himself. It doesn't say that a president can be indicted. All it says is that Donald Trump can be investigated for crimes while in office, because his imaginary blanket of immunity does not extend to his business or his accountants.
There is no obvious reason why a state could not begin to investigate a President during his term and, with the information secured during that search, ultimately determine to prosecute him after he leaves office.
So, PONY UP, FUCKERS!
Well, maybe not yet. Trump's Bible-humping lawyer took a break from tweeting ultrasound photos to promise an appeal, saying, "The issue raised in this case go to the heart of our Republic. The constitutional issues are significant."
And here's where the rubber meets the road, because the opportunities for SCOTUS to save Trump's orange bacon are ample. In the best case scenario, the Supreme Court would just refuse to hear Trump's stupid appeal. There's ample precedent going back to the Nixon era that states can investigate a sitting president, and no one seriously believes the president is immune from investigation while in office. But now we have a live issue of Younger abstention. So if conservative justices want to put this issue on ice for a while, they might do the president a solid and call for a full argument on Younger abstention's applicability to state cases involving the president. Which could allow this drag out for a really, really long time.
Donald Trump would really appreciate that! You Wonkette would not appreciate that! We'll have to wait and see.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.