Despite years of opposition, former US President Donald Trump is required to release his tax returns and other financial information as part of a criminal investigation. That Supreme Court ruling allows the New York City prosecutor to finally conduct the criminal investigation.
The Manhattan attorney and the Democrats in Congress have been trying to get hold of former President Trump’s tax returns for years, from the time he was a real estate mogul and presidential candidate. The latter refuses with all his might to release the information – as tradition dictates. Trump was the first president since Richard Nixon not to release his tax returns. He wanted to invoke his immunity as president, but in July last year, that immunity claim was rejected by the Supreme Court.
The court found that the president should not meet other standards than ordinary citizens. “The president is neither absolutely inviolable from any criminal subpoenas from the state requesting his private papers nor is he entitled to increased protection,” said Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts commenting on the verdict. Seven judges voted in favor, two voted against.
Back to federal court
However, the Supreme Court left another opening by stating that Trump could challenge the subpoena in lower courts. But in October 2020, a federal court ruled that Trump should make the documents available to a grand jury assembled by Democrat Cyril Vance, the Manhattan prosecutor.
But Trump’s lawyers took the case back to the Supreme Court, asking for the federal court’s ruling to be put on hold, arguing that the documents would not be kept confidential. “Even if disclosure is limited to the grand jury and prosecutors, the confidentiality of those documents will be lost forever once the documents are handed over.”
The Supreme Court did not follow that reasoning, Trump must make all documents available to Vance. Initially, the investigation focused on a transfer for Trump’s campaign in 2016. The money would have served to pay hush money to the porn actress Stormy Daniels, but that is in violation of the law on financing election campaigns. However, the investigation later turned out to be much broader and also to investigate whether Trump’s companies were guilty of, among other things, tax fraud. Vance therefore wants to view tax returns from Trump and his companies for the period 2011-2018. It mainly concerns documents and returns from the time when the president was active as a real estate magnate.
If Trump’s tax refund audit is negative, he may have to pay back more than $ 100 million to the tax authorities.
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