Supreme Court docket will not cease grand jury from getting Trump’s tax returns
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to prevent a New York grand jury from receiving President Donald Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns. This was a key defeat in his protracted legal battle over not placing his tax records in the hands of investigators.
The ruling doesn’t mean the returns will be published anytime soon and may never be published publicly. According to state law, materials given to a grand jury must be kept secret. But Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can now require Trump’s accountants to turn over the records the president has steadfastly refused to surrender to prosecutors or Congress.
“The work continues,” Vance said in response to the Supreme Court order.
Vance is filing an eight year tax return for a grand jury investigation into hush money payments and other financial transactions. The investigation began after it was revealed that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen paid Stormy Daniels $ 130,000 to keep silent about her claim she had an affair with Trump, a claim the former president has denied.
Cohen also alleged to Congress that the Trump organization sometimes lied about its financial situation in order to evade taxes or obtain favorable loan terms.
In July, the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s claims that, as the seated president, he was immune to any part of the criminal justice system – including grand jury investigations. The decision, however, said he could return to the lower courts and provide the same arguments to anyone trying to defeat a subpoena.
A month later, a federal judge in New York ruled Trump’s renewed attempt to dismiss the subpoena, describing the legal attack as merely a repackaged version of his original immunity argument. The 2nd US Court of Appeals upheld the verdict.
Trump’s legal team said the subpoena was very broad and maliciously issued to harass him. If Vance were just considering Cohen’s payments, that wouldn’t explain why Vance simply copied a much broader subpoena from a congressional committee.
A state’s first subpoena for a sitting president’s notes should have been properly tailored, they told the Supreme Court.
“The nearly unlimited range, range and geographic reach has all the characteristics of a fishing expedition,” his lawyers told the Supreme Court. “And the fact that the subpoena was issued to a third party administrator while tensions between the Trump Organization and the District Attorney were high, for dubious reasons of efficiency, only makes the malice allegation all the more plausible.”
However, in recent court records, Vance has suggested that the scope of his work may be broader than just the hush money payments.
“The investigation covers a wide variety of business transactions and is based on information from public sources, confidential informants and grand jury procedures,” and could include business forgery, insurance fraud and tax fraud, Vance told the appeals court.
After the Supreme Court cleared the way for Vance to enforce the subpoena, the president has exhausted his legal resources to block it. The full tax return documents or parts of them would only be released if Vance later files criminal complaints and tries to use them as evidence.