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Supreme Court Rejects Trump’s Bid to Shield Tax Returns from New York Prosecutor, but Rules Congress Must Wait

President Donald Trump listens during an event on reopening schools amid the coronavirus pandemic at the White House in Washington, D.C., July 7, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The Supreme Court removed an obstacle for New York state prosecutors to access President Trump’s tax returns, but in a separate case, ruled to require further proceedings on congressional efforts to access the returns.

In the former case, the Court voted 7–2 against Trump, rejecting Trump’s claim of immunity in response to a Manhattan district attorney seeking access to his tax returns. The prosecutor is seeking the records as part of a criminal investigation that involves hush-money payments to two women who claim to have had affairs with Trump. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both appointed by Trump, voted with the majority.

Trump’s legal team and the Justice Department argued that the president is immune from investigation while he is in office, a rationale the Court rejected.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. issued a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for eight years worth of the president’s financial documents, including both his personal and corporate tax returns. The accounting firm has said it will comply with the order.

In remanding the case to the lower courts, the Court noted that Trump may still lodge other objections to the prosecutor’s subpoena order.

In 2016, Trump attracted harsh criticism when he became the first president in decades who declined to publicly release his tax returns during the campaign season, saying he was under audit by the IRS.

Editor’s Note: This article has been emended since its initial publication to better reflect the Court’s ruling.

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