The Supreme Court cleared the way for New York City prosecutors to obtain former President Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns and other financial records, part of a lengthy battle Trump has waged to keep the information secret.
Trump is the only president in recent memory to refuse to release his tax returns, but don’t expect the public to see these records anytime soon. The documents would likely only be released if prosecutors criminally charge Trump and introduce them into evidence.
“The work continues,” Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat, said in a statement after the ruling. Vance is looking to obtain eight years of Trump’s tax returns, from 2011-18, as part of a grand-jury investigation into possible payments Trump made to two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, to silence them from speaking publicly during the 2016 campaign about alleged affairs they had with him while he was married.
This Supreme Court ruling rejected Trump’s attempt to block a lower-court decision that said Trump had to comply with Vance’s subpoena of his records. It is the court’s second blow in the past year to Trump’s attempts to keep his taxes and finances secret.
In July 2020, SCOTUS ruled 7-2 against him when he claimed that he was immune from prosecution while in office. That decision sent Vance’s request for his tax records back to the lower courts, telling Trump he can fight the subpoena in other ways but cannot use the presidential immunity 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 for the majority.
Then in August, a New York federal judge ruled against Trump’s request to have the subpoena for his records blocked, and an appeals court upheld the lower court’s ruling.
In his filings to the appeals court, Vance hinted that his investigation’s scope may go beyond just the hush-money payments. “The investigation concerns a variety of business transactions and is based on information derived from public sources, confidential informants, and the grand-jury process,” he told the appeals court, adding that he may be looking into potential insurance fraud, tax fraud, bank fraud, and falsification of business records by Trump.