UPDATED, with Trump comment: Former president Donald Trump now faces the release of his tax returns to a New York prosecutor, after the Supreme Court on Monday declined to step in to halt a subpoena for the documents.
The returns will not, for the foreseeable future, be publicly released, but will be available to a grand jury investigation led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. The Supreme Court ruling is a significant defeat for Trump, who faces multiple investigations in his post-presidency. He refused to release his tax returns throughout the 2016 campaign and during his White House tenure.
The subpoena seeks tax records from Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA.
In a statement, Trump said that the investigation was “a continuation of the greatest political witch hunt in the history of our country,” and said that New York City has been looking “at almost every transaction I’ve ever done, including seeking tax returns which were done by among the biggest and most prestigious law and accounting firms in the U.S.”
Trump’s legal team had argued that the subpoena was overly broad and was made in bad faith. But the Supreme Court, without comment, declined to issue a stay, letting stand a lower court decision.
In October, a federal appellate court rejected Trump’s attorneys’ arguments that Vance was engaged in a “fishing expedition” to find financial wrongdoing.
“It would be impossible for grand juries and district attorneys advising them to fashion document subpoenas with such refinement and precision that every document called for is useful in the criminal investigation,” the judges wrote then. “Grand juries must necessarily paint with a ‘broad brush.’”
Trump’s attorneys said that the subpoena was part of an investigation of so-called “hush money” payments made to two women who claim to have had sexual relations with Trump in 2006. Trump has denied the claims.
Vance wrote on Twitter on Monday, “The work continues.” His office has not specified the nature of the investigation, but in previous filings prosecutors have suggested that the probe was much more extensive than just the hush money payments. In one filing they indicated that it involved “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”
In Trump’s statement, he said that the Supreme Court “never should have let this ‘fishing expedition’ happen, but they did.” He accused the investigation of being politically motivated while again falsely claimed to have won the presidential election.
“The new phenomenon of ‘headhunting’ prosecutors and AGs — who try to take down their political opponents by using the law as a weapon — is a threat to the very foundation of our liberty,” he said.
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