Home >News >World >Supreme Court denies Trump bid to block access to tax, financial records

Wshongton: The Supreme Court denied former President Donald Trump’s last-ditch effort to keep New York prosecutors from seeing his tax returns and other financial records, issuing a one-sentence order Monday with no noted dissents.

Separately, the court rejected Mr. Trump’s efforts to throw out ballots in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, states he lost to President Biden in November’s election. The justices appeared to be working on cleaning house of Trump-related litigation following the former president’s second Senate impeachment trial earlier this month.

A bipartisan Senate majority found Mr. Trump guilty of inciting an insurrection culminating in his supporters’ Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, but the 57-43 margin fell short of the two-thirds vote needed for conviction.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has been investigating potential insurance and bank fraud by the Trump Organization and its officers. Mr. Vance sent a grand-jury subpoena to Trump accountant Mazars USA in August 2019, but the then-president intervened to block it, arguing that his official status immunized him from criminal investigation during his term.

Last July, the Supreme Court ruled that the president had no inherent power to prevent a third party from turning over records to criminal investigators but could assert other arguments any citizen could raise against a subpoena, such as that it was overbroad or issued for an improper purpose.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers then made those arguments, but federal district and appeals courts ruled for the prosecutor, finding no evidence that Mr. Vance, a Democrat, was motivated by partisan objectives or that he sought materials beyond the scope of a complex financial investigation. Mr. Trump then asked the Supreme Court to halt enforcement of the subpoena while he appealed those legal findings; Monday’s decision denied that request.

“The work continues," Mr. Vance said in a statement Monday. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office declined to comment further.

A spokeswoman for Mazars said the firm was aware of the Supreme Court’s order. “As we have maintained throughout this process, Mazars remains committed to fulfilling all of our professional and legal obligations," she said.

Mr. Vance’s office is likely to obtain the documents within days, according to Duncan Levin, a former Manhattan prosecutor who now works at the firm Tucker Levin.

Mr. Trump, in a rambling statement that reprised his unfounded contention that he won the November election, said: “This investigation is a continuation of the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of our Country."

Prosecutors are looking into financial dealings around some of Mr. Trump’s signature Manhattan properties, including his flagship Fifth Avenue building, Trump Tower, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors are also examining other properties, the Journal has previously reported, including 40 Wall St., an art deco skyscraper in New York City’s Financial District; Trump International Hotel and Tower, a hotel and condominium building at Columbus Circle; and Trump Plaza, an apartment building on Manhattan’s East Side. Subsidiaries of Ladder Capital Corp., a real-estate investment trust, made loans to Mr. Trump for all four buildings. Ladder didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors have also subpoenaed records about Seven Springs estate, a 213-acre property in Westchester, N.Y. Those subpoenas sought information related to the estate’s valuation, which has varied widely.

Separately, several House committees have been seeking Mr. Trump’s financial records, which they say are necessary to judge the effectiveness of conflict-of-interest rules and federal anticorruption laws. Monday’s decision doesn’t affect those efforts, which the Supreme Court in July said must pass a higher hurdle than those of criminal investigators.

Rep. Richard Neal (D., Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Congress continued to press litigation to obtain the records.

“This morning, the Supreme Court once again affirmed that no one is above the law. The necessity for the case I am pursuing is clear and I remain fully confident that we will prevail," Mr. Neal said.

The Supreme Court on Monday also rejected several Trump-related appeals of lower-court decisions upholding election procedures in states Mr. Biden won. Three conservative justices, however, indicated they would have heard a case from Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court, invoking the state constitution’s free and equal elections clause, authorized election officials to count absentee ballots mailed by Election Day if they were received within three days.

Republicans argued that the state Supreme Court’s power to apply the Pennsylvania Constitution didn’t permit it to extend the Election Day deadline for receipt of absentee ballots set by the state legislature. They contended that the federal Constitution, which provides that state legislatures direct the “manner" in which presidential electors are chosen, prevents state courts from exercising their own powers under state constitutions to make such changes.

“Now, the election is over, and there is no reason for refusing to decide the important question that these cases pose," Justice Samuel Alito wrote, joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch. “A decision would provide invaluable guidance for future elections," he wrote. In a separate opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas voiced similar views.

The issue wouldn’t have affected the outcome in Pennsylvania. About 10,000 mail-in ballots arrived after Election Day in the state, where Mr. Biden defeated Mr. Trump by more than 80,000 votes.

Mr. Trump received good news from the court in one case Monday. Without comment or noted dissent, the justices denied an appeal from Stephanie Clifford, the adult-film actress known as Stormy Daniels, who received hush-money payments from former Trump attorney Michael Cohen over an extramarital affair she said she and Mr. Trump carried on in 2011. Mr. Trump has denied her account.

After Ms. Clifford told a magazine she had been threatened by a man who told her to “leave Trump alone," Mr. Trump tweeted that she was lying. Ms. Clifford sued Mr. Trump for defamation but the case was dismissed on free-speech grounds and Ms. Clifford was ordered to pay Mr. Trump’s attorneys’ fees. Monday’s action declined to review the lower court decision.

Apart from the Supreme Court’s actions, federal and District of Columbia prosecutors alike have said they are looking at Mr. Trump’s potential culpability for the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, which followed a rally the then-president held urging followers to fight the confirmation of his opponent’s victory. Mr. Trump denies responsibility for the violence at the Capitol.

Corinne Ramey contributed to this article.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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