The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that President Trump’s financial records can be examined by New York prosecutors.
In a related case, the court ruled that this information should not be shared with Congress.
Mr. Trump is the first president since Richard Nixon in the 1970s not to have made his tax returns public.
His lawyers had argued that he enjoyed full immunity during his tenure and that Congress had no valid justification for requesting the records.
Two committees controlled by the Democrats in the House of Representatives and New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance – also a Democrat – had demanded several years of Mr. Trump’s taxes to determine whether the current conflict of interest laws regarding an American president were severe enough.
Trump, a Republican, denies any misconduct and called the investigation into his tax affairs “a witch hunt.”
The two cases involving Congressional committees have been followed closely, as they could have had implications for the extent to which US lawmakers can control the activities of a sitting president.
In the New York prosecutors’ application case, the Supreme Court ruled by a majority of seven votes to two that the president did not have absolute immunity from criminal investigations.
“Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of this Court established that no citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called in criminal proceedings” said the court.
“We are reaffirming this principle today. “
What are the cases?
Two of the cases concerned the ability of the House intelligence, monitoring and financial services committees to compel Deutsche Bank and Mazars USA, Trump’s long-standing accounting firm, to hand over their tax and financial documents.
The Trump v Vance case was based on a subpoena from Manhattan Attorney Cyrus Vance – an order for the taking of evidence.
Mr. Vance argued that Mr. Trump’s documents were necessary to determine whether the financial records had been forged to cover the hidden money payments to two women in 2016 who said they had relationships with Mr. Trump.
The judges heard the cases remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Supreme Court has a 5-4 Conservative majority and includes two people appointed by Trump – Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.