Federal Judge Hands Trump Victory in Tax Returns Battle

A district judge issued a temporary injunction Thursday against the California law that requires candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the presidential ballot, handing President Donald Trump a victory.

In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Morrison England, Jr. said the state cannot force presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.

Trump’s unreleased tax returns have been in the center of a legal battle between the White House and Democrats, who have sought to obtain the president’s financial information. The injunctions, although facing certain legal challenges from state officials, is a major victory for President Trump, who sued California over its law.

Judge England is to make his final ruling by the end of this month, CNN informs.

The California law applies to every presidential candidate, but the judge acknowledged in the ruling that it targeted Trump specifically.

“The elephant in the room is President Trump’s tax returns. It has taken us an hour and a half, but we have finally come around why we are here for all of this, because President Trump did not disclose his taxes,” England said during the hearing.

Peter Chang, a lawyer for the state of California, said the law applied to all candidates and was thus valid, adding that “Trump spawned this when he broke 50 years of tradition” and refused to release his tax returns.

Trump’s lawyers disagree, however. One of them, Thomas McCarthy claimed that the law “handicaps” those presidential candidates who prefer to keep their tax returns private, adding that it also threatens to set the path for more extreme disclosures, such as a candidate’s mental and physical information.

Trump has long criticized California, a predominately Democratic state, for a number of issues, including blaming Hollywood for an epidemic of mass shootings. In turn, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom blasted the Trump administration and the GOP for their “complete silence on state’s rights” following President Trump’s move to curtail state-set emission standards.

Thursday’s ruling came just hours after Trump sued to block New York prosecutors from getting their hands on his tax returns as part of an investigation into hush-money payments made to two women claiming to have had affairs with Trump.

Prior to the injunction, the President’s lawyers said in court that he would likely forego California’s primary ballot rather than release his tax returns. They argued the law was an attempt to “harass” the President and that states cannot set their own qualifications concerning presidential races.

“I don’t care how you skin the cat, it’s an unconstitutional law,” said Harmeet Dhillon, who represented the state and national Republican parties.

The judge seemed to accept such reasoning.

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