US Supreme Court allows release of Trump tax returns

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FILE – Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One on January 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices rebuffed without comment Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but he has previously called the DA’s investigation “a fishing expedition” and “the greatest witch hunt in history.”

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, whom Trump nominated to the high court, joined that decision. It was issued before Trump’s third nominee, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, replaced the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the court.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the then-president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

“The Supreme Court has now proclaimed that no one is above the law. Trump will, for the first time, have to take responsibility for his own dirty deeds,” Cohen said in a statement issued after the Supreme Court announced its action.

The court on Monday separately turned away Daniels’ bid to revive her own defamation lawsuit against Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to enforce subpoenas on similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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