Washington: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to participate in the long legal battle between former President Donald Trump and Manhattan district attorneys, clearing the way for New York City prosecutors investigating Trump and his company’s execution of grand jury subpoenas for his tax payment recording.
The High Court’s decision to reject Trump’s request for suspension was a cruel defeat for the former president. Trump has dismissed the Manhattan prosecutor’s investigation as a political “witch hunt” and has been fighting the High Court to keep his tax returns unmoved.
Due to the confidentiality of grand jury proceedings, this development does not mean that Trump’s financial records will be made public.
This is the second time Trump has asked the Supreme Court to protect his financial documents from disclosure to prosecutors. Last summer, the High Court rejected Trump’s claim that he was absolutely immune to criminal investigations during his tenure, but sent the case back to the lower court to resolve other legal issues.
The office of the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns and financial documents for several years as part of an investigation into alleged stealing money paid during the 2016 presidential election. Vance’s office said that prosecutors are also studying the possible criminal activities of the Trump Organization more extensively.
Trump’s lawyers asked the high court to intervene in the case again after the lower court defeated the legal dispute. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in early October that Trump’s accountant, Mazars USA, must abide by the subpoena, rejecting Trump’s other claims that the subpoena was too wide and harassed him out of malicious intent.
The appeals court kept a stay in its decision in place while Trump appealed to the Supreme Court.
In court papers asking the high court to intervene, Trump’s attorneys cited concerns that the subpoena, which makes “sweeping demands” and is identical to one issued by Congress, “crosses the line – even were it aimed at some other citizen instead of the President.”
Trump’s attorney, William Consovoy, said his financial records have been the subject of political interest, repeatedly calling out Vance for issuing a word-for-word copy of a subpoena issued by House Democrats during the previous session of Congress.
“The result is a sweeping subpoena to Mazars for all financial papers related to every facet of the business and financial affairs of the President and numerous entities reaching back nearly a decade,” Consovoy wrote.
Consovoy argued that although the grand jury proceedings are confidential, Trump’s financial records can be disclosed in other ways, such as as part of the indictment or grand jury report.
Vance’s lawyer, Carey Dunne, said in court documents that Trump’s claim that the subpoena was too broad and confused the actual scope of the investigation, and his lawyer was unable to prove that the prosecutor’s purpose was “illegal.”
The legal battle over Trump’s tax returns: The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has now rejected the court to block the ruling requiring disclosure of Trump’s tax returns
Dunn said Trump’s lawyers erroneously stated that the jury’s investigation was limited to Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen (Michael Cohen) assisting in the silent payment of two women who claimed to have had relations with Trump. Trump denied this.
“The obvious explanation for the subpoena’s breadth … is that the investigation had extended beyond the Cohen payments,” Dunne wrote, adding that complex financial investigations typically involve several interrelated corporate entities.
The subpoena seeks tax returns, financial statements, engagement letters, underlying support for financial statements and working papers from various entities Trump owned beginning in 2011.
Dunne also rejected claims that the subpoena was politically motivated, arguing that grand jury secrecy laws would prevent any politicians from viewing the subpoenaed documents.
In its 35-page opinion, the 2nd Circuit sided with Manhattan prosecutors, saying that grand juries “must necessarily paint a broad brush” when issuing subpoenas.
“Similarly, the President’s allegations of bad faith fail to raise a plausible inference that the subpoena was issued out of malice or intent to harass,” the court said.
Last fall, Vance’s office told Trump’s lawyers that if the Supreme Court refuses to suspend the Second Circuit’s ruling, it intends to enforce a subpoena for Trump’s financial records.
Vance said in an apparent tweet to the High Court’s decision that “work continues.”