The Courts

Trump Wins Short Reprieve in Bid to Shield Tax Records From Manhattan DA

President Donald Trump / Reuters

President Donald Trump won another reprieve Tuesday in his bid to shield his financial records from investigators.

The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance cannot yet enforce a subpoena for the president's financial records in a short afternoon order that followed oral arguments earlier in the day. The order, called a stay, will remain in effect while the appeals court weighs Trump's argument that the subpoena is overbroad.

The decision will keep the Supreme Court out of the fray, at least for the moment. Had the Second Circuit denied Trump's request for a pause, the president likely would have asked the justices to step in.

"The idea that the district attorney needs these records so badly that there’s no time for appellate review—after he voluntarily stayed enforcement for nearly a year—is implausible," Trump's lawyers wrote in filings that pressed the Second Circuit to stall the Vance subpoena while his appeal goes forward.

The victory is only a temporary one. The appeals court put Trump's case on the fast track, scheduling another set of arguments for Sept. 25, meaning that a decision before the end of the year, or even before the election, is plausible.

U.S. district judge Victor Marrero rejected Trump's bid to quash Vance's subpoena on Sept. 1, prompting Trump's appeal.

"This is a continuation of the witch hunt, the greatest witch hunt in history. There's never been anything like it," Trump said in August after Marrero sided with Vance.

The Supreme Court rejected Trump's argument that he is "absolutely immune" from state criminal processes in July. When the case returned to the district court, Trump's lawyers launched new attacks, arguing that the subpoena is overbroad and that prosecutors showed bad faith by asking his accounting firm, a third party, to hand over his personal and professional financial records.

While Marrero rejected those arguments, they seemed to draw at least a little sympathy during Tuesday morning's hearing before the Second Circuit. Judge John Walker noted Vance's subpoena covers almost a dozen entities doing business on several continents, a nod to the president's argument that the subpoena is overbroad.

Vance is investigating hush money payments made to two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump before the 2016 campaign. The case is No. 20-2766 Trump v. Vance.