WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday declined a request from attorneys for former President Donald Trump seeking to stop prosecutors in New York from gaining access to his tax records.
Trump’s tax records are not supposed to become public as part of the prosecutor’s criminal investigation, but the high court’s action is a blow to Trump because he has for so long fought on so many fronts to keep his tax records shielded from view. The ongoing investigation the records are part of could also become an issue for Trump in his life after the presidency. Trump has called it “a fishing expedition” and “a continuation of the witch hunt — the greatest witch hunt in history.”
Attorneys for Trump filed an emergency request in October to stop Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance from accessing his records. The Supreme Court waited months to act in the case, and on Monday officials offered no explanation for the delay.
Since 2019, Vance has been seeking Trump’s financial records dating back to 2011 as part of investigations into the Manhattan-based Trump Organization and alleged hush money payments made to silence two women who claim to have had affairs with the former president. Vance has not shared details about the investigations, citing grand jury secrecy, according to The New York Times.
In October, Trump’s attorneys argued that the investigation is centered around payments allegedly made by Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, in 2016, making the subpoena requesting years’ worth of records overly broad. Attorneys also argued that the subpoena was issued to harass Trump. As evidence, they pointed to language used in the grand jury’s subpoena, which was copied from a House Oversight and Reform Committee subpoena issued in April 2019 to Mazars USA, the accounting firm used by Trump.
In July, the Supreme Court ruled that Trump was not immune from criminal investigations while serving as president. As part of the decision, the high court returned the Vance case and a similar case involving records sought by Congress to lower courts and prevented the records from being turned over while the cases proceeded.
Since the high court’s July ruling, Trump’s attorneys have made additional arguments that his tax records should not be turned over, but they lost again in federal court in New York and on appeal. It was those rulings that Trump had sought to put on hold.
Trump has consistently fought the release of his tax returns and other financial records. In 2016, he broke decades of presidential tradition by declining to release his tax returns during the presidential election. He previously framed attempts to obtain such records as “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”
Last year, the Times obtained more than two decades of Trump’s tax returns, which showed evidence of chronic financial losses and years of tax avoidance. The newspaper reported that in the year Trump won the race for the White House and in his first year in office, he paid only $750 in federal income taxes.
In 10 of the previous 15 years for which the Times obtained records, the newspaper reported Trump paid no federal income tax.
Trump has insisted that he paid “many millions of dollars in taxes.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.