Supreme Court Rules on Trump Tax Return

The Supreme Court last Monday ruled on former US President Donald Trump’s tax return, allowing a New York prosecutor to obtain them. This was a huge blow to Trump who has fought to keep his financial papers from the reach of prosecutors.

The financial documents are subject to grand jury secrecy rules that do not allow them to be released publicly. The ruling was issued without comment of noted dissent.

Trump argued that the subpoena issued by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance was issued in bad faith and overbroad. Access to Trump’s financial records means that there will no longer be any interference with the grand jury’s investigation into alleged hush-money payments. People familiar with the matter said the documents were to be submitted to the district attorney’s office in a few days.

The subpoena will include documents from January 2011 to August 2019, and Trump’s tax returns from Mazars. The documents are linked to the employment of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen and the hush money payment allegedly made to two women who claimed the former president had extramarital affairs with them.

In a statement, Trump said the Vance investigation “is a continuation of the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of our country.” Adding that, the “Supreme Court never should have let this ‘fishing expedition’ happen, but they did.”

Mazars’s agreement to release Trump’s financial documents makes the case a lost one for Trump and his lawyers. The accounting firm said it is committed to fulfilling both its professional and legal obligations.

“Due to our industry’s professional obligations Mazars cannot discuss any clients, or the nature of our services we provide for any client, in a public forum without client consent or as required by law,” the firm said.

In July, the Supreme Court’s 7-2 voting rejected the former president’s broad claims of immunity on his tax returns, keeping it away from a state criminal subpoena. He said that as a president he wasn’t answerable to the same standards that applied to ordinary citizens. The case was sent back to the lower courts so that Trump could make more specific objections regarding the subpoena. The SCOTUS ruling against Trump said he can fight the subpoena in other ways but not using the presidential immunity as an argument.

“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 Roberts wrote.

The federal appeals court said in October that there was “nothing that suggests that these are anything but run-of-the-mill documents typically relevant to a grand jury investigation into possible financial or corporate misconduct.”

However, Trump's lawyers took the case back to the Supreme Court, requesting the justices to put on hold the lower court ruling while they consider taking up the appeal.

“The subpoena is geographically sprawling, temporally expansive, and topically unlimited – all attributed that raise suspicions of an unlawful fishing expedition,” William Consovoy wrote. “Even if disclosure is confined to the grand jury and prosecutors … once the documents are surrendered … will be lost for all time.”

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