WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday refused to intercede in a long-running legal fight between former President Donald Trump and the Manhattan District Attorney, paving the way for New York prosecutors investigating Trump and his company to do so execute a summons to appear before a grand jury for his tax records.
The development is a brutal defeat for the former president. Trump dismissed the Manhattan prosecutors’ investigation as a political “witch hunt” and fought all the way to the High Court to keep his tax returns secret.
Due to the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, the ruling does not mean Trump’s financial records will become public.
This is the second time Trump has asked the Supreme Court to protect his financial records from disclosure to prosecutors. Last summer, the high court rejected Trump’s claims that he was absolutely immune from criminal investigations during his tenure, but sent the case back to lower courts to resolve other legal issues.
Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Cyrus Vance has subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns and financial records for several years in an investigation into allegedly covert payments made during the 2016 presidential race. de Vance said prosecutors were also looking more broadly at possible criminal activity within the Trump organization.
Trump’s lawyers have asked the high court to intervene again in the case after losing the legal battles in lower courts. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled in early October that Trump’s accountant Mazars USA must comply with the subpoena, dismissing Trump’s additional claims that it was too broad and was issued in bad faith to harass him.
The appeals court kept its ruling in place while Trump appealed to the Supreme Court.
In court documents asking the High Court to intervene, Trump’s lawyers have expressed concerns that the subpoena, which makes “sweeping demands” and is identical to the one issued by Congress, “crosses the line – even if it aimed at another citizen instead of the president. “
Trump’s attorney William Consovoy said his financial records had been the subject of political interest, repeatedly calling Vance for issuing a verbatim copy of a subpoena issued by House Democrats during the previous session of Congress.
“The result is a subpoena to Mazars for all financial journals related to every facet of business and financial affairs from the president and many entities dating back nearly a decade,” Consovoy wrote.
Consovoy argued that despite the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, there are other means by which Trump’s financial records can be made public, such as indictment disclosures or indictment disclosures. a grand jury report.
Carey Dunne, Vance’s attorney, said in court documents that Trump’s claim that the subpoena was too broad confused the real scope of the investigation, and his lawyers have been unable to show that the prosecutors had “an improper purpose”.
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Dunne said Trump’s attorneys mistakenly said the grand jury investigation was limited to payments that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, facilitated to silence two women who claimed to have had relationships with Trump. Trump has denied the business.
“The obvious explanation for the magnitude of the subpoena … is that the investigation has extended beyond Cohen payments,” Dunne wrote, adding that complex financial investigations typically involve several interrelated business entities.
The subpoena targets tax returns, financial statements, engagement letters, the underlying financial statement medium, and working papers of various entities owned by Trump as of 2011.
Dunne also rejected claims that the subpoena was politically motivated, arguing that grand jury secrecy laws would prevent politicians from viewing subpoenaed documents.
In its 35-page opinion, the 2nd Circuit sided with Manhattan prosecutors, saying grand juries “must necessarily paint a large brush” when issuing subpoenas.
Likewise, the president’s bad faith allegations do not lead to a plausible conclusion that the summons was issued out of malice or intent to harass, ”the court said.