Donald Trump tax returns will not be made public before election, rules US Supreme Court

9 July 2020, 21:31

By Matt Drake

Donald Trump's financial records will be examined by prosecutors in New York but are likely not to be made public before the November election, the US Supreme Court has ruled.

The US Supreme Court has issued a mixed verdict on demands for President Donald Trump's financial records that will keep his tax returns, banking and other documents out of the public eye for the time being.

By seven votes to two, the justices upheld the Manhattan district attorney's demand for Mr Trump's tax returns but kept a hold on financial records that Congress has been seeking for more than a year.

Mr Trump is the first president since Richard Nixon in the 1970s not to have made his tax returns public.

The President, who has strenuously sought to keep his financial records private, did not immediately regard the outcome as a victory, calling the investigation into his tax affairs as a "witch hunt".

The President has been ordered to hand over tax returns
The President has been ordered to hand over tax returns. Picture: PA

He wrote in a series of angry tweets following the rulings: "The Supreme Court sends case back to Lower Court, arguments to continue. This is all a political prosecution."

The justices rejected arguments by Mr Trump's lawyers and the Justice Department that the president is immune from investigation while he holds office or that a prosecutor must show a greater need than normal to obtain the records.

The tax returns are being sought as part of a grand jury investigation.

Because the grand jury process is confidential, the rulings make it unlikely any of Mr Trump's financial records will become public soon.

The ruling returns the case to lower courts, with no clear prospect for when the case might ultimately be resolved.

The tax returns case also is headed back to a lower court but Mr Trump's major arguments have now been rejected.

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr said his investigation, on hold while the court fight played out, will now resume.

"This is a tremendous victory for our nation's system of justice and its founding principle that no-one - not even a president - is above the law," he said.

"Our investigation, which was delayed for almost a year by this lawsuit, will resume, guided as always by the grand jury's solemn obligation to follow the law and the facts, wherever they may lead."

The fight over congressional subpoenas has significant implications regarding a president's power to refuse a formal request from Congress.

In a separate fight at the federal appeals court in Washington over a congressional demand for the testimony of former White House counsel Don McGahn, the administration is making broad arguments the president's close advisers are "absolutely immune" from having to appear.

The subpoenas are not directed at Mr Trump himself.

Instead, House committees want records from Deutsche Bank, Capital One and the Mazars USA accounting firm.

Mazars is also the recipient of Mr Vance's subpoena.

The Supreme Court made the ruling
The Supreme Court made the ruling. Picture: PA

Appellate courts in Washington and New York brushed aside the president's arguments in decisions that focused on the fact the subpoenas were addressed to third parties asking for records of Mr Trump's business and financial dealings as a private citizen, not as president.

Two congressional committees subpoenaed the bank documents as part of their investigations into Mr Trump and his businesses.

Deutsche Bank has been one of the few banks willing to lend to Trump after a series of corporate bankruptcies and defaults starting in the early 1990s.

Mr Vance and the House Oversight and Reform Committee sought records from Mazars concerning Mr Trump and his businesses based on payments that Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged to keep two women from airing their claims of decade-old extramarital affairs with Trump during the 2016 presidential race.