Trump wages coast-to-coast legal battle to keep tax returns hidden
The effort to obtain President Donald Trump's tax returns is heating up as the president and his administration battle coast to coast to prevent them from falling into hostile hands and potentially being made public.
In New York, the president seeks to prevent Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance from obtaining his tax information as part of an investigation into the pre-election payoffs to women who alleged affairs with Trump. In Washington, D.C., the president is trying to prevent the House Oversight Committee from obtaining his financial records while also seeking to block the House Ways and Means Committee from utilizing a new New York law designed to give the panel access to Trump's state tax returns should the Treasury Department refuse to turn them over (another battle that is playing out in court.)
And in California, he's battling a new state law aimed at having him make public the returns in order to appear on a primary ballot. Those cases don't include the various Emoluments Clause-related suits currently going through the federal system, which could lead to the president's returns being disclosed through discovery.
Trump's employing a wide range of legal arguments to prevent his returns from being disclosed. Among them is the argument that authorities can't investigate a sitting president for anything — even if he shoots someone in the middle of 5th Avenue in New York City, and that immunity provides blanket cover for his business, his family members and his business associates. Then, there is the argument that Congress can't investigate a sitting president unless it has a legitimate legislative purpose — even then, if that probe is not part of an impeachment, it is not legitimate.
And should a state force Trump to release his taxes in order to appear on a primary ballot, or provide Congress with his state returns, they would be violating his First Amendment rights. Additionally, providing the returns would be an undue burden on the president, significantly hampering his ability to do his job, he's argued.
"Underlying the president's defense in most of the information-seeking cases is an argument that a president is immune from being investigated while in office," Walter Dellinger, a Duke University law professor who served as acting solicitor general under former President Bill Clinton, told NBC News. "That argument permeates most of the cases as a linchpin. I expect that argument to be thoroughly rejected by the courts, including by justices appointed by President Trump."
Read the full story on NBC NEWS.