Just after escaping the second impeachment trial, former U.S. President Trump was hit by another “heavy hammer” from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Since 2019, New York prosecutors have been hoping to obtain Trump’s financial records for investigation, but has been repeatedly blocked by the Trump legal team.
On February 22, local time, the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s motion to keep his tax forms confidential, which undoubtedly cleared the way for New York prosecutors to obtain Trump’s financial records. Trump was very angry about this, and also said that the investigation of New York prosecutors was completely politically motivated.
After years of “yanking” between the New York prosecutor and the Trump team, the lawsuit once reached the Supreme Court of the United States, but now it has added new progress. Can Trump be “safe” this time?
The U.S. Supreme Court intervened in two criminal investigations
New York Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance initially investigated two “sealseal fees” involving Trump.
Trump’s then-private lawyer Cohen, as an intermediary, paid two “sup fees” to two women who claimed to have an affair with Trump on the eve of the 2016 U.S. election vote. However, Trump denied having an affair with them.
Subsequently, the scope of the investigation gradually expanded. The recent investigation gained momentum with a new prosecutor with extensive experience in financial investigations, CNN reported.
Prosecutors in New York are currently investigating a series of potential criminal acts of the Trump Group, including financial, insurance and bank fraud, and whether they have provided false information about assets to financial institutions or banks.
CNN pointed out that the Supreme Court intervened more than once in the 17-month criminal investigation case.
In July 2020, the justice of the Supreme Court ruled by a 7-2 vote, holding that local criminal subpoenas were equally effective for then President Trump, who did not enjoy absolute immunity from criminal investigation, and found that the Manhattan District Attorney of New York could access Trump’s financial records. Record.
In October of that year, Trump filed an urgent request to the Supreme Court to suspend the execution of the grand jury subpoena issued by Manhattan prosecutors in New York.
The subpoena is exactly what Trump is asking for a series of financial documents, including tax returns.
Four months after the clockwork was dialed, the Supreme Court now officially rejected Trump’s request not to submit tax and other financial information.
The statement of the Supreme Court does not explain why it will not take four months to make the decision. The Washington Post analysis believes that this may be because the Supreme Court is unwilling to intervene in the case during the election.
Trump accused New York prosecutors of “phishing law enforcement”
This decision of the Supreme Court of the United States has aroused great dissatisfaction with Trump.
On February 22, local time, Trump issued a statement accusing the investigation of the New York prosecutors of being “a continuation of the largest political ‘witch hunt’ in American history” and saying that “the Supreme Court should not have let this ‘phishing law enforcement’ happen, but they still did so.”
The Hill newspaper noted that the Supreme Court’s decision had given the Trump team a “decisive blow”.
People familiar with the matter said that the New York prosecutor’s next step would be to require Mazars USA, which is in charge of the accounting business of the Trump Group, to provide relevant tax documents. Mazars USA has also previously said that it will be committed to fulfilling all professional and legal obligations.
CNN believes that these documents may be crucial to the investigation, because they may reflect the decision logic behind asset valuation work and tax write-off, which is particularly important for judging whether the decision makers have criminal intentions.
Once the New York prosecution has tax documents, they will be able to dig deeper into the investigation, seek interviews with key witnesses to determine whether state laws have been violated.
However, even if the New York prosecutor has obtained Trump’s tax documents, they will not be released publicly in the short term because they are limited by the grand jury confidentiality rules.
The Washington Post pointed out that Trump has always hoped that the Supreme Court can be his last line of defense against both houses of Congress and Democrats.
Trump’s appointment of a Supreme Court justice in office reshaped the Supreme Court pattern and prolonged the conservative dominance. None of the three justices appointed by Trump, however, have publicly objected to the subpoena sought for Trump’s tax documents, and now Trump is at “unprecedented” legal risk.
U.S. media said that although the case has made progress, the variables are still in place.
CNN pointed out that although significant progress has been made, the prospect of the case is still uncertain.
The first is the complexity of the case itself.
Some former prosecutors told CNN that due to Trump’s long-term listening to lawyers and accountants, coupled with the complexity of real estate valuation, it will be difficult to file charges of tax or financial fraud.
They pointed out that in individual cases, although certain tax write-offs or valuation amounts seem suspicious on the surface, they are actually required by law.
The Trump side may argue that different valuation methods are taken for different legal reasons. For example, when seeking loans, the valuation of assets such as real estate needs to reflect their potential growth, so they need to be overvalued. When declaring taxes, the valuation of assets such as real estate needs to reflect their real value, so the valuation at this time is lower than that of loan valuation.
Another outstanding question is whether the New York prosecutor will complete the investigation under Vance’s leadership.
According to people familiar with the matter, Vance’s term will last until the end of this year, and he is not expected to run for re-election.
The New York Manhattan prosecutor’s investigation into Trump and his group is not the only investigation case facing Trump.
U.S. media pointed out that according to the outcome of the case, Trump may face imprisonment.
The New York State Attorney General is investigating how the Trump Group evaluates its assets.
In addition, although Trump successfully escaped from the Senate impeachment trial, the Attorney General in Washington, D.C., may charge him for his role in the Capitol riots.
Prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia have also launched a criminal investigation into Trump’s attempt to change the state’s election results, including Trump’s call to the Georgia Secretary of State to find enough votes to allow Trump to “turn the tables” in Georgia.
In addition, there are two defamation lawsuits.
Jane Carroll, a female consultant columnist of Elle magazine, filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, claiming that Trump falsely claimed that he had not sexually assaulted her and fabricated “a large number of lies”, which undermined her integrity, honesty and dignity.
Former reality show contestant Zevos also filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, accusing Trump of being a “liar and misogynist” and “defeating and discrediting” her reputation.
According to Reuters, Trump’s niece Mary Trump also filed a lawsuit against Trump, claiming that she had fraudulently abandoned her inheritance worth tens of millions of dollars.