In a significant blow to the former president, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Donald Trump must turn over his tax returns to a New York prosecutor.
UNITED STATES (AP) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied Donald Trump’s final request to prevent his tax returns from being turned over to a New York prosecutor.
The ruling ends a long legal battle to prevent Manhattan U.S. Attorney Cyrus Vance from accessing Trump’s tax records and is a significant blow to the former president who has spared no effort to keep them hidden for years.
“The top court did not elaborate on how the justices voted and deferred to the decision’s release. The work continues,” Vance said in a terse statement following the publication of the ruling.
In July, the Supreme Court had already deemed justified the prosecutor Vance’s request, a Democrat claiming Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars, for the former president’s taxes from 2011 to 2018. But Trump’s lawyers appealed the decision.
This time, however, the ruling is final. Mazars has indicated in the past that it would abide by the Supreme Court ruling. During his election campaign, Trump promised to release his tax returns but never did.
He was the first president since Richard Nixon to refuse to release his tax returns. Since Vance’s investigation starts from a grand jury’s decision whose deliberations are secret, no one knows precisely what the prosecutor is looking for in those tax documents he is requesting from the Mazars law firm.
Initially, the investigation focused on a payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels and another alleged Trump mistress to buy their silence, in violation of U.S. election finance law.
But the prosecutor’s office then hinted that the investigation could be broader and extend to “possible criminal behavior within the Trump Organization,” the company that regroups the businesses of the former real estate magnate and which is not listed on the stock exchange, such as tax and insurance fraud.
Former President Trump did not immediately react to the Supreme Court ruling. He has said in the past that he is the subject of “a witch hunt.”
According to the U.S. press, U.S. investigators recently questioned Deutsche Bank employees, a financial supporter of Trump and his holding company for years, and employees of his insurance company, Aon.
They also interviewed Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who is serving house arrest.
Cohen told Congress that Trump and his company artificially inflated or reduced their assets’ value to obtain bank loans or lower taxes.
NO ONE ABOVE THE LAW
Suppose the suspicions are confirmed, and Trump is indicted. In that case, the case could culminate in the former president’s imprisonment, who has resided at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida, golf club since leaving the White House on Jan. 20.
“Two hundred years ago, a great jurist on our court established that no citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the standard duty to present evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in the first ruling last July.
Trump also attempted to appeal the Supreme Court’s ruling to a federal appeals court in New York state by asserting that Vance is acting “in bad faith,” but his arguments were rejected in August.
Contrary to federal crimes, state crimes cannot receive presidential amnesty if Joe Biden wanted to do so to unify the country.
The New York Times investigation that obtained information on two decades of Trump’s taxes and his businesses revealed in September that the former president had suffered heavy losses has large debts and has avoided paying federal income taxes in 11 of the 18 years examined.
According to The New York Times, in 2016 and 2017, he paid just $750 in taxes. Democratic New York state prosecutor Letitia James is also investigating allegations of bank fraud and insurance fraud allegedly committed by the Trump Organization as part of a civil lawsuit.
The 74-year-old former president, recently acquitted in a second impeachment trial for inciting his supporters to insurrection in the Jan. 6 invasion of Congress, also faces other lawsuits, mostly civil.
He also faces a criminal investigation by prosecutors in Georgia into his attempts to subvert the outcome of that state’s presidential election after calling a top Georgia official and asking him to “find” votes.
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