US President Donald Trump arrives at the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, USA on November 5, 2020 to brief reporters on the results of the 2020 US presidential election.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a final offer by former President Donald Trump to keep his financial records, including the years of his tax returns, out of the hands of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
The decision, the second time the country’s Supreme Court refused to block a grand jury subpoena on these confidential records, was announced in a resolution with no established disagreement.
The news further threatens the ex-president, who is under investigation in New York and elsewhere.
The legal battle over Trump’s financial records, including personal and business documents from 2011, is related to an investigation by Vance’s office into possible tax violations involving the Trump Organization.
Vance’s investigation appeared to have originally focused on hush money payments made on Trump’s behalf to two women who said they were having affairs with him. Trump has denied their claims.
However, court files and news reports suggest that prosecutors are now investigating more serious allegations.
A Vance court case last summer found the investigation could consider possible “insurance and banking fraud by the Trump organization and its officials.” In another file, a month later, prosecutors suggested investigating Trump for possible tax crimes.
Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, told Congress in 2019 that Trump had not properly inflated and deflated the value of his real estate assets for tax and insurance purposes.
Vance’s records seemed to refer to Cohen’s testimony. A New York Times report was quoted in a file filed by the prosecution that Trump “was involved in dubious tax systems, including cases of outright fraud,” in the 1990s.
In a statement, Cohen said, “The Supreme Court has now declared that no one is above the law. Trump will for the first time have to take responsibility for his own dirty deeds.”
In late 2020, Vance investigators requested records from three cities in Westchester County, New York, as part of the investigation. The records refer to Trump’s 213 acre Seven Springs Estate property that extends across these towns.
This property is one of several Trump assets that New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating as part of a civil investigation into whether the Trump Organization has not properly inflated and deflated the value of certain properties for financial gain.
The Wall Street Journal reported this month that Vance’s office is also reviewing loans Trump took out on Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and three other Manhattan properties: 40 Wall Street, the Trump Plaza apartment building, and the Trump International Hotel and Tower.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Vance wrote, “The work continues.”
A combination photo shows adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaking in New York City, and US President Donald Trump speaking in Washington, Michigan, USA on April 16, 2018 and April 28, 2018, respectively. speaks.
A Vance spokesman, Danny Frost, said the office would not make any further comments, but rather that it would act quickly to enforce its subpoena with the president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA.
Mazars said in a statement it was “aware of the Supreme Court order”.
“As we have maintained throughout this process, Mazars continues to strive to meet all of our professional and legal obligations,” the company said. “Due to the professional obligations of our industry, Mazars cannot discuss customers or the nature of our services we provide to customers in a public forum without the customer’s consent or as required by law.”
Former President officials did not immediately return requests for comment.
The verdict comes after the New York Times reported that Vance’s office hired a former federal attorney, Mark Pomerantz, who has extensive experience handling economic fraud cases, to work on the Trump investigation.
Reuters reported in the past few days that Vance’s office had issued a subpoena to the New York Tax Commission.
Individuals familiar with the city authority told the point of sale that they expected the subpoena to require statements of income and expenses that Trump’s company had submitted as part of applications for tax relief for commercial real estate. The lower the appraised value of a property, the less the owner will have to pay property taxes on it.
Joseph Tacopina, a senior New York City criminal defense attorney, told CNBC last week that Vance’s persistent search for tax documents suggests that he firmly believes they would engage in criminal behavior.
“Cy Vance is fighting way too hard for this case to fall,” said Tacopina. “He seems to be on something.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday read on a single line: “The suspension motion presented to Justice Breyer and referred to the court is denied.”
The single-line arrangement was a marked contrast in shape since the last time the Supreme Court weighed the dispute between Vance and Trump while he was still president.
In July, the Supreme Court prevailed 7-2 against Trump in a statement written by Chief Justice John Roberts. Trump had argued at the time that, as president, he was immune to state criminal investigations.
Roberts wrote that there was no such immunity.
“In our judicial system, the public has a right to any man’s evidence.” Since the earliest days of the Republic, “every man” has included the President of the United States, “he wrote at the time.
However, the court said Trump could still pose other challenges to the enforcement of the subpoena, which he did.
In October, the 2nd US Court of Appeals again dismissed Trump’s arguments. Later that month, Trump’s lawyers again asked the Supreme Court to intervene.
The court’s silence on the October petition as the election between Trump and soon-to-be President Joe Biden tightened has been taken by some as an indication that the judges did not want to engage in the political drama between the two men.