On Feb. 22, the Supreme Court refused to keep former President Donald Trump’s tax records from the New York City prosecutor. Announcing its ruling as part of the “orders in pending cases” section of Monday’s regularly scheduled order list, the high court said simply that Trump’s request to block a subpoena had been denied. The order offered no explanation or reasoning for the decision and did not indicate how individual justices may have voted on the issue.
The case of Trump v. Vance was never heard at the Supreme Court. New York City’s Democrat District Attorney Cyrus Vance subpoenaed Trump’s tax records from his accountants in 2019. That effort was ostensibly tied to a criminal investigation Vance wished to launch on how Trump treated payments to guarantee the confidentiality of his extramarital affairs. Vance speculated the payments were not accounted for correctly and may violate New York tax law. Those records may prove damaging for Trump politically, too, which is why we presume so many activist Democrat prosecutors want them, while others seem uninterested.
Trump initially denied paying for the silence of the women who slept with him. Former personal attorney to Trump Michael Cohen later testified to Congress that he did make those payments on Trump’s behalf. According to Cohen, the women didn’t demand payment to sleep with him, only to keep quiet about it, and proceeded to monetize the dalliances by trying to sell their stories of sex with Trump. If only Vance could get the records, he believed he could embarrass Trump, revealing hard evidence of the infidelities and maybe finding a tax violation to boot. Trump sued to stop him, and that’s how we ended up with today’s order from the Supreme Court.
For the procedural history, let us turn to Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog:
“A federal district court in New York and the 2nd Circuit rebuffed the president’s request to quash that subpoena, prompting Trump to appeal to the Supreme Court. The justices ruled in July that the president is not categorically immune from state criminal subpoenas, but they sent the case back to the lower courts to allow the president to challenge the subpoena on other grounds.
“When the case returned to the district court, the president again asked the judge to quash the subpoena, arguing that it was a ‘fishing expedition’ issued in ‘bad faith’ to harass him. But the judge rejected the president’s contention and granted Vance’s motion to dismiss the president’s claims, prompting the president to appeal to the 2nd Circuit, which upheld that ruling.”
Then-President Trump went right back to the Supreme Court on Oct. 13, 2020, seeking an emergency order and review of the 2nd Circuit. This decision is a result of that request.
The Court offered no insight as to why it waited until now to deal with the request. Prosecutor Vance, upon the Court’s order, tweeted out, “The work continues.” His quest to determine if the $130,000 Trump paid Stormy Daniels in 2016 is correctly accounted for proceeds apace.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.