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Meet The Judge Who Ruled President Trump Must Submit Tax Returns

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Who Is Judge Victor Marrero? New Details On Judge Who Ruled That Trump Must Submit Tax Returns

Donald Trump is famously unwilling to let the American people see how he makes his money. Sure, everyone knows about his hotels and golf courses — all of which share his name — but as for the details of how he runs his business, that's a mystery. His company isn't publicly traded so he never has to release financial records and he has absolutely refused to release his taxes, even when he was running for office. He was the first presidential candidate in decades to hide his finances from the voters.

A lot of people wonder what he's hiding, including the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. He is investigating Trump for possible campaign finance violations in the form of the hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016. To learn what really happened, Vance needs records from Trump himself and his businesses and he hit the president with a subpoena for them recently. Trump tried to get the subpoena blocked, but this week, Judge Victor Marrero ruled that Trump needs to turn over his records.

Who is Victor Marrero? Read on for all the details. 

1. Marerro's early years 

Marrero was born in 1941 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. He went to college at New York University, graduating in 1964 before going to Yale Law School. He spent a decade of his career working in the city and state level government in New York. From 1979-1981, he served as a deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Following that, he spent a decade in private practice.

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2. Appointed to the bench

Marerro served in a number of roles during the Clinton administration. He was the U.S. ambassador on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations from 1993-1997, then the 
U.S. ambassador and permanent representative of the United States to the Organization of American States from 1998-1999. In 1999, Clinton nominated him to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York when it was vacated by Sonia Sotomayor. In 2010, he became a senior judge.  

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3. Designer shoe verdict

Marrero was called upon to decide a case with a very high profile — high fashion profile, that is. He heard the arguments between fashion house Yves Saint Laurent SA when they sued the brand Christian Louboutin SA over Louboutin’s allegations that Yves Saint Laurent had copied its signature red soles. In an interview with his former law firm Sidley Austin LLP, Marrero recalls the case as one with a lot of strong feelings among the litigants. “That generated a lot of controversy, a lot of division and conflict on both sides of the dispute,” Marrero says. Marrero got to weigh in on the case before it was ultimately dismissed. He wrote an opinion that poked a little bit of fun at the question of colors, saying "Louboutin's claim would cast a red cloud over the whole industry, cramping what other designers could do while allowing Louboutin to paint with a full palette."

Marrero rules on Trump this week.

4. Striking down the Patriot Act

When he's not being asked to consider the free expression rights of fashion houses, Marrero has been involved in molding national security policy. In 2007, he evaluated a portion of the Patriot Act. “The portion of the Patriot Act I was involved in developed after the September 11th attacks,” Marrero recalls. The point of the law was to make it easier for law enforcement to get information about potential terrorists and, as it was originally written, the FBI would have been allowed to compel telecom companies to turn over customer data. The hitch was, there were no checks and balances on what the FBI could ask for: they could send so-called security letters to companies at their own discretion. “Companies receiving the letters were mandated to comply and provide information about their customers without discussing the secret request first with anybody, at any time, and in perpetuity,” Marrero said. “So that naturally raised a lot of First Amendment and Fourth Amendment concerns.” Ultimately, Marerro ruled that the security letters would have a negative effect on free speech and that the rules were unreasonable because it would give the government "authority to search records of the communications companies, or to demand business records about individuals who did not know that the information was being provided about them." After Marrero's ruling, Congress changed the law to make FBI search procedures more in-line with the Constitution. 

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5. Taking Trump down a notch

In his latest ruling, Marrero came up against lawyers for Donald Trump and the Trump Organization. The New York Times reports that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has been investigating what exactly happened when Trump reimbursed his now-imprisoned lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, for a payment he made to Stormy Daniels. Cohen says he paid Daniels, who is an actress in adult films, right before the 2016 election to keep quiet about an affair she claims to have had with Trump. Cohen was reimbursed from the Trump organization. It is possible that the string of payments constitutes a campaign finance violation since the hush money paid to Daniels was intended to keep a scandal from rocking the last weeks of the Trump campaign. 

Vance has been trying to get his hands on about eight years of financial records from Trump himself and the Trump organization and issued a subpoena for them. Trump's lawyers sued to block the subpoena. Marrero heard arguments from both sides this week. Trump's lawyers argued that, as president, Trump is immune from any sort of criminal probe. CBS reports that Marrero rejected that argument, saying that the claim of broad immunity is "extraordinary" and "an overreach of executive power." Marrero wrote at length about the Founders' intent that the role of the president should not mimic the absolute power of royalty. He concluded that the notion of total presidential immunity was "repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.”

Marero finds Trump's arguments unconstitutional.

6. No immediate result

CBS notes that Trump has appealed Marerro's decision but the courts aren't going to let them stall forever on this. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a temporary stay of the judge's ruling but they are demanding "expedited review" by the court. The next ruling could come as early as the end of this week.

It's not clear that the public will ever get to see Trump's financial records but Judge Marrero has made it a lot more likely that DA Vance will get a copy for his investigation.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.