- The Washington Times
Monday, February 22, 2021

The Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to get former President Donald Trump’s tax returns as part of a criminal probe.

The high court denied Mr. Trump’s attempt to halt the New York subpoena seeking nearly a decade of his tax records to present in a grand jury probe of his financial dealings, including allegations he paid hush money to cover up extramarital affairs.

The public, though, won’t be able to see the documents — at least for now.

“Even if the returns are made available to the grand jury, they will not be available right away. Grand jury proceedings are secret,” said Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law. “Eventually, the district attorney can bring charges or reveal the proceedings.”

In another blow to Mr. Trump, the high court also rejected the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s challenge to the state’s extended deadline for receiving and counting mail-in ballots after Election Day.

In the tax return case, Mr. Trump’s attorneys asked the high court to postpone the state’s subpoena while the case was litigated in the lower courts. The justices declined to do so.

In July, they ruled that House Democrats could not subpoena the president’s financial records as part of their search for criminal wrongdoing.

This time, the court held that a similar subpoena from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance was valid in a state court proceeding.

The 7-2 ruling said Mr. Trump could raise valid defenses in a lower court to the state criminal subpoena, as Mr. Trump tried to do unsuccessfully.

Mr. Trump said the Supreme Court never should have allowed the “fishing expedition,” arguing the New York investigation is a continuation of Democrats’ witch hunt of him following the unsuccessful Mueller probe and two failed impeachment trials.

“The new phenomenon of ‘headhunting’ prosecutors and AGs — who try to take down their political opponents using the law as a weapon — is a threat to the very foundation of our liberty. That’s what is done in third world countries,” Mr. Trump said in a statement issued Monday.

“I will fight on, just as I have, for the last five years (even before I was successfully elected), despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me. We will win!” he added.

The request for the financial documents seeking eight years of Mr. Trump’s tax records from 2011 through 2019 was made to his accounting firm, Mazars.

Mr. Vance issued the subpoena while conducting a probe of the former president and his business dealings after his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, admitted to paying hush money to women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

The former president said Mr. Vance’s subpoena was political and “copied” the Democrats’ congressional subpoena. He said the request was overly broad and lacked good faith.

Mr. Vance responded to the court’s move on Monday through Twitter, writing simply, “The work continues.”

In the election case, the high court rejected the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s lawsuit that charged state officials illegally changed mail-in voting requirements and extended mail-in voting deadlines for the 2020 election.

Mr. Trump won the state in 2016 but lost to President Biden in 2020 as mail-in ballots were tabulated for several days after the Nov. 3 election.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito and Neil M. Gorsuch would have granted the case, saying the question over whether state legislatures should dictate the manner of elections over nonlegislative officials should be decided.

“The election is over, and there is no reason for refusing to decide the important question that these cases pose,” Justice Alito wrote in a dissent.

It takes four votes to grant a review of a case.

Ilya Shapiro, the publisher of the Cato Institute’s Supreme Court Review, said because the court refused to hear the case, the conflict remains unsettled.

“After a contentious presidential election where many on the losing side don’t accept the legitimacy of the results, it behooved the Supreme Court to step in now to clarify things, before the next election. It’s disappointing that only three justices wanted to do so, one short of the votes needed to take up a case,” he said.

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