Tuesday 23 February 2021
Washington – (BBC):
The US Supreme Court has ordered Donald Trump to turn over his tax returns and other financial records to New York prosecutors.
The former US president refused to release the documents for several years, despite it being a precedent, as it is a duty for the presidential candidates.
A lower court had earlier ruled that the records were relevant to a criminal investigation.
The ruling does not necessarily mean that the files will be made public.
Financial documents must be presented as evidence to a grand jury to be examined in secret, and may be published later as part of an indictment.
A grand jury is formed by the attorney general to determine if there is enough evidence to follow the trial. The jury is given investigative powers and can issue habeas corpus to compel people to testify.
The Supreme Court ruling is a blow to Trump, who has been locked in a legal battle to protect his records from a grand jury for months.
In July, the Supreme Court ruled that Trump’s financial records could be examined by New York attorneys.
But attorneys representing Trump challenged the ruling, stating that the lawsuit was “too broad” and issued in bad faith.
On Monday, the court rejected the lawyers’ argument.
According to US media, this was the last chance for the former president, who left the White House last month before President Joe Biden’s inauguration, to keep records secret.
Trump has consistently denied wrongdoing and described his tax investigation as politicized.
In a statement released Monday, Trump accused New York attorneys of being unfairly targeting him and said the Supreme Court “should never have allowed this to happen.”
What is the background to it?
Manhattan’s Democratic Attorney General Cyrus Vance tried months ago to obtain the equivalent of eight years of personal and corporate tax returns for Trump.
Vance was investigating bribery allegations before the 2016 presidential election of two women who said they had sexual relations with Trump.
The attorney general said the tax returns and financial records are closely related to the case.
The sums were allegedly paid by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougall.
Trump denies these things happen, describing the Supreme Court’s decision last July as “purely political.”
Vance’s lawyers later said the investigation would extend beyond the alleged bribery.
They cited newspaper articles about bank fraud and presumed insurance at the Trump Organization and Cohen’s testimony in Congress, who said the former president would reduce the value of his assets when he tried to cut taxes.
Trump, who inherited money from his father and became a real estate developer, is the first president since Richard Nixon in the 1970s to not announce his tax returns.
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