The US Supreme Court has rejected Donald Trump’s efforts to block a New York prosecutor from obtaining his tax records, in a big blow to the former president as he grapples with several criminal probes.
The Supreme Court’s order on Monday clears the way for Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, to enforce a subpoena for Trump’s tax returns, which he has long fought.
The tax records are unlikely to be made public as part of the district attorney’s investigation into Trump and the Trump Organization. That investigation has broadened since it began in 2018 in response to reports that his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, had arranged hush money payments for two women who claimed to have had extramarital affairs with Trump.
According to recent court filings, Vance’s office is now exploring possible banking, tax and insurance-related fraud committed by the Trump Organization, the former president’s family-run collection of real estate investments and other businesses.
Trump has long opposed releasing his tax returns, claiming since he first ran for president in 2015 that he cannot make them public because his tax affairs are under audit by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS, however, has said there was no rule preventing returns that were still under audit from being shared with the public.
After obtaining nearly two decades worth of Trump’s tax information last year, The New York Times reported Trump paid just $750 a year in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, and no income tax at all in 11 of 18 years reviewed.
Monday’s Supreme Court decision marks the second time the US’s highest court has ruled on the matter.
Last July, the court said Trump, then president, did not have immunity from the Manhattan criminal investigation, but temporarily blocked similar subpoenas issued by Congress, where Democratic lawmakers have also tried to get copies of his tax records since the 2018 midterm elections.
The latest decision underscores the mounting legal woes facing the former president even after his acquittal in a Senate impeachment trial earlier this month over his role in the January 6 siege on the US Capitol.
Trump is also the subject of a criminal investigation in Georgia, where the district attorney in Fulton county is probing his efforts to overturn the result of the presidential election there.
The attorney-general in the District of Columbia has not ruled out charging Trump for his role in the January 6 riots that interrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral college victory and left five people dead.
Last week the NAACP, the prominent civil rights organisation, also filed a federal lawsuit against Trump for his actions on January 6.
Trump issued a lengthy statement on Monday calling the Manhattan district attorney’s probe “a continuation of the greatest political witch hunt in the history of our country”.
“The Supreme Court never should have let this ‘fishing expedition’ happen, but they did,” he added.
Vance earlier issued a brief, three-word statement, on Monday saying: “The work continues.”
Trump, who has been banned from nearly all social media platforms, has largely stayed out of the public eye since he snubbed Biden’s inauguration last month. However, he has waded into national debates in recent days, including a blistering attack on fellow Republican Mitch McConnell, who has castigated the former president for his role in the January 6 siege.
Trump has not ruled out running for president again in 2024. He is expected to make his first big appearance this coming weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual meeting taking place in Orlando, Florida.
“I will fight on, just as I have, for the last five years . . . despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me,” Trump said in Monday’s statement. “We will win!”
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