WASHINGTON – The US Supreme Court rejected on Monday former President Donald Trump’s refusal to turn over some of his tax returns to the New York grand jury examining whether he broke the law by having his 2016 presidential campaign make secret payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels.
The high court thus cleared the way for the New York district attorney in Manhattan, Cyrus Vance, to obtain a number of years of Trump’s tax returns, dealing a harsh legal blow to the ex-president, who always has strongly opposed being required to hand over his tax records to any court.
However, the documents will not become public knowledge since, according to the Supreme Court ruling, tax returns are subject to the grand jury secrecy rules that prevent their release outside the court.
Vance is investigating whether the Trump campaign’s secret payments to Daniels – to prevent her from going public with details about an alleged sexual relationship she had with the mogul – broke New York state law.
Trump has adamantly refused to provide the financial documents, claiming that the order demanding them is too broad, was issued in “bad faith” and amounts to political “harassment” by Vance, who is a registered Democrat.
The Manhattan district attorney is demanding that Trump provide eight years of his tax returns and other documents as part of his investigation of the secret payments to the porn star.
In addition, Vance is studying whether the former president committed other potential crimes, including bank and securities fraud, as he suggested months ago in court documents.
Last July, the high court rejected Trump’s attempts to declare that he was immune to such requests given that he was president at that time, and it ruled that, as president, he did not have any right to different treatment than regular citizens.
Besides Vance’s probe, Trump is the target of another judicial investigation in New York state for possibly hiding or lying about the true value of his assets to obtain loans and tax exemptions.
This other case is being pursued by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating whether Trump inflated the value of some of his real estate holdings in the state to obtain bank loans and whether he also falsified financial statements and records to obtain tax breaks.
Among the other cases involving Trump that are currently being pursued is one regarding a gigantic mansion belonging to the Trump family in upper New York state’s Westchester County on which they received generous tax breaks after arguing that the property was devoted to nature preservation, something that the family could have also claimed for other failed development projects.
Both cases could complicate Trump’s post-administration legal problems. His presidential term ended on Jan. 20.