The New York Times reports that the Supreme Court on Monday denied former President Donald Trump’s final attempt to keep his financial records secret.
The court issued a “brief, unsigned order requiring Mr. Trump’s accountants to turn over his tax and other records to prosecutors in New York.”
From The Times:
The court’s order was a decisive defeat for Mr. Trump, who had gone to extraordinary lengths to keep his tax returns and related documents secret.
The case concerned a subpoena to Mr. Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, by the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat. The firm has said it will comply with the final ruling of the courts, meaning that the grand jury should receive the documents in short order.
According to the report, it would typically be unclear whether the information would become public, given grand jury secrecy rules; however, “The New York Times has obtained more than two decades of tax return data of Mr. Trump and his companies, and it recently published a series of articles about them.
Mr. Trump, the articles said, has sustained significant losses, owes enormous debts that he is personally obligated to repay, has avoided paying federal income taxes in 11 of the 18 years The Times examined and paid just $750 in both 2016 and 2017.
The Times wrote that the scope of Vance’s investigation remains unclear, but the newspaper also noted that the probe “arose partly from an investigation by his office into hush-money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump, relationships the president has denied.”
In addition, “court filings by prosecutors suggested that they are also investigating potential crimes like tax and insurance fraud,” The Times reported.
In July, the Supreme Court soundly rejected Mr. Trump’s central constitutional argument against the subpoena – that state prosecutors are powerless to investigate a sitting president.
“No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority in that decision.
The majority gave Mr. Trump another opportunity to challenge the subpoena, on narrower grounds.
Mr. Trump did just that, but his arguments were rejected by a trial judge and a unanimous three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in New York.
“Any documents produced under the Mazars subpoena would be protected from public disclosure by grand jury secrecy rules,” the panel said in an unsigned opinion, “Which greatly reduces the plausibility of the allegation that the district attorney is acting out of a desire to embarrass the president.”
Mr. Trump’s lawyers then filed an “Emergency application” asking the Supreme Court to intercede. It urged the court to block the appeals court’s ruling while it decided whether to hear another appeal from Mr. Trump.
Image credit: Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour / Public Domain