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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Ukraine scandal and the impeachment inquiry that President Donald Trump is facing in the U.S. House of Representatives have been so prominent in the news that other Trump-related investigations and scandals have been receiving less attention. But those investigations are continuing nonetheless, including Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s probe of Trump’s financial history and 2016 hush money payments. A federal judge, on Monday, vehemently disagreed with a lawsuit attacking Vance’s investigation, and legal experts have had a lot to say about the matter.

Vance has been trying to obtain Trump’s tax returns as part of an investigation into hush money payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign. But Trump, in his lawsuit against the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, has asserted that because he is president of the U.S., he is immune to such investigations — an argument that U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero rejected on Monday in a 75-page ruling. According to Marrero, “this court cannot endorse such a categorical and limitless assertion of presidential immunity from judicial process.”

Trump, as expected, is appealing Marrero’s decision, and the case will now move to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor, predicted on Twitter that Trump will go out of his way to demonize Marrero. The legal expert tweeted, “Get ready for unfounded, dirty and partisan attacks on the federal judge who absolutely did the right thing and followed the law. Let’s hope the Second Circuit Court of Appeals does as well.”

Vance has subpoenaed Trump’s long-time accountants, Mazars USA, to obtain his tax records. And according to Marrero’s ruling, that subpoena is perfectly legitimate and should go forward.

On Twitter, Rocah explained, “One of the most the most important points from (Marrero’s) decision allowing Manhattan DA subpoena to go forward: Trump’s position would prevent not only the POTUS from being investigated, but also, anyone who happened to be part of that scheme before he became POTUS.”

A long list of U.S. presidents, from Barack Obama to George W. Bush to Bill Clinton, have publicly released their tax returns. But according to legal expert Glenn Kirschner, Trump is terrified at the prospect of doing the same — and Marrero’s ruling is very bad news for him. Kirschner asserted, “All other presidents, all legitimate presidents, have released their tax returns. No harm. Trump is scared to death. He will fail.”

Journalist Shimon Prokupecz tweeted, “If this ruling holds up, it would be the first known prosecutor to get their hands on Trump’s tax returns.”

Trump’s lawsuit against Vance asserted that he would suffer “irreparable harm” if the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office succeeded in obtaining his tax returns. And Trump, in the lawsuit, argued that it was unnecessary for Vance to obtain eight years of Trump’s tax returns.

Adam Klasfeld, a reporter for Courthouse News, tweeted that there is an important message in Marrero’s ruling: “Donald Trump is not a king.”

 

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)