US Supreme Court sets the stage for release of Trump tax returns

Brunilde Fioravanti
Febbraio 26, 2021

The US Supreme Court has rejected Donald Trump's attempts to keep his tax returns secret from the Manhattan District Attorney, intensifying the possibility that the former president will be subject to criminal prosecution.

It already was clear that the high court had no intention to intervene in the cases because it did not act before Congress on January 6 certified Biden's victory.

The legal battle has played out even as some of Trump's financial records have become public. Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr. also blasted the court's decision as another witch hunt against his father. He reiterated the false claim that he won the election, not President Joe Biden, and criticized the Supreme Court, to which he appointed three justices during his four years in office. The last of the written briefs in the case was filed October 19. But a court that includes three Trump appointees waited through the election, Mr Trump's challenge to his defeat and a month after Mr Trump left office before issuing its order. Trump, while claiming he is merely being targeted by his political enemies, once again repeated the lie that he was the true victor of the 2020 election. "For example, if Trump told the IRS he's broke and lenders that he's rich that's just the type of discrepancy they could build a case around", said Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor who worked on a wide range of white collar cases as Vance's chief of asset forfeiture.

In one court filing a year ago, however, prosecutors signalled they may expand their investigation based on the contents of the records, citing public reports of "possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization".

Monday's ruling concerns a subpoena that Vance had issued to Trump's accountants Mazars USA in August 2019 ordering it to furnish documents stretching back to 2011. This decision came in an unsigned opinion upholding a lower Court of Appeals ruling that said Trump must comply.

Vance's office had said that it would be free to enforce the subpoena and obtain the records in the event that the Supreme Court declined to step in and halt the records' turnover, but it was unclear when that might happen.

In a statement released shortly after the Supreme Court handed down its decision, Vance simply said that "the work continues".

The high court, as expected, also rejected two Trump appeals challenging Biden's victories in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin based on claims that the rules for mail-in ballots in the two election battleground states were invalid. "I would look at it in that way, that if this provides us some insight into what Trump was really doing behind closed doors at his business, then we maybe have a little more information about to evaluate him for next time". In one court filing past year, however, prosecutors said they were justified in demanding the records because of public reports of "possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump organization".

Vance's investigation initially focused on hush money paid by Trump's former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen before the 2016 election to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Trump has denied the affairs.

Chief Justice John Roberts and the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg were responsible for Trump not getting what he wanted.

Justice Clarence Thomas led the effort to help Trump challenge Pennsylvania election procedures.

The court's order is a win for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Junior, who has been seeking Mr Trump's tax records since 2019 as part of an investigation into alleged hush money payments. Mr Trump later retweeted a post that put the sketch next to a photo of Ms Clifford's ex-husband with a mocking message suggesting the two men resembled each other.

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