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Monday, August 3, 2020

SCOTUS rules NY prosecutors can access Trump’s financial records

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled a New York grand jury can subpoena President Trump’s tax returns and financial records, but blocked a similar request from congressional investigators, sending both decisions back to lower courts and keeping the records under wraps for the foreseeable future.

In two 7-2 verdicts, the justices said the president was not immune from subpoenas and criminal investigations but ruled an investigation from Democrat-led House Committees was too broad, and that it claimed limitless powers to pry into Trump’s financial dealings that they do not have.

“The President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need,” the first verdict from Chief Justice John Roberts read.

The historic ruling will allow Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. have a grand jury subpoena records of the business dealings which the president has fought to keep private since he entered public office, however such a subpoena would have to be ruled on by a lower court and even if grant the records would be unlikely made public before the November election.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito were the dissenting votes in each 7-2 ruling.

Multiple Democrat-led House committees issued subpoenas to the president’s financial institutions in mid-2019 as part of a probe into allegations from Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen that the president inflated his wealth on tax returns in order to secure large loans.

President Donald Trump
President Donald TrumpGetty Images/Chip Somodevilla

Cohen, who turned over years of financial statements to the committee, also said Trump undervalued his assets to reduce his real estate taxes — prompting Congress to issue subpoenas of his financial records dating back to 2009.

Vance’s office last September also subpoenaed Trump’s longtime accounting company Mazars USA for eight years of his financial records and tax returns as part of an investigation into whether he paid hush-money before the 2016 election to several women whom he allegedly had affairs.

The payments would be a potential violation of campaign finance laws.

The president has denied all of the allegations and his lawyers argued that the subpoenas amounted to nothing more than a politically-motivated mission to weaken Trump’s standing with voters before the November election.

The case centered on whether third parties such as Mazars USA and the president’s financial institutions, Capital One and Deutsche Bank, could be compelled by Congress and prosecutors to hand over their famous client’s records.

Trump spent the morning tweeting about the case, writing “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” and “PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT!” while also repeating claims that his predecessor Barack Obama spied on his campaign.

The president’s attorneys fought the cases at every turn, suing both the Manhattan DA’s office and Trump’s banks in an attempt to block the legal challenges which threatened to make his long-secret financial dealings public.

When appeals to a Manhattan federal judge and the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit both failed, Trump asked the Supreme Court to hear his case.

Trump’s financial dealings have been scrutinized for years, with Democrats accusing him of profiting off the presidency in his dealings with foreign governments and through encouraging diplomats and Secret Service agents to stay in his hotels in the US and around the world.

Read More at NYPost

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