San Francisco Chronicle

Jus­tices re­ject Trump bid to shield fi­nances

- By David G. Sav­age David G. Sav­age is a Los An­ge­les Times writer. Crime · U.S. News · US Politics · White-collar Crime · Discrimination · Fraud · Politics · Courts · Human Rights · Society · Law · Donald Trump · Washington · U.S. Supreme Court · New York City · The Trump Organization · Manhattan · United States of America · John Roberts · Michael Cohen

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Mon­day cleared the way for New York pros­e­cu­tors to ob­tain eight years of fi­nan­cial records from the ac­coun­tants and bankers of for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump as part of a crim­i­nal fraud and tax in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­volv­ing him and the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Trump faces pos­si­ble crim­i­nal and civil charges on sev­eral fronts, but the New York in­ves­ti­ga­tion of his busi­ness deal­ings has moved fur­ther than any of the other probes.

With­out a com­ment or dis­sent, the jus­tices is­sued a one­line or­der say­ing they had de­nied Trump’s re­quest to block en­force­ment of sub­poe­nas from the grand jury in New York. His lawyers had urged the court to block the sub­poe­nas on the grounds they were overly broad and po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

Man­hat­tan Dis­trict At­tor­ney Cyrus Vance Jr. has not elab­o­rated on what the grand jury is in­ves­ti­gat­ing, but in court fil­ings his of­fice said it was look­ing into po­ten­tial “pro­tracted crim­i­nal con­duct at the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Shortly af­ter the court is­sued its or­der, Vance tweeted: “The work con­tin­ues.”

Michael Cohen, a for­mer lawyer and fixer who worked for Trump, tes­ti­fied to Congress that Trump reg­u­larly in­flated the value of his hold­ings when he was seek­ing loans and de­flated the value of the same as­sets to lower his taxes. Mak­ing false state­ments on loan doc­u­ments or tax fil­ings can be pros­e­cuted as fraud.

Dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Cohen said, he also ar­ranged hush money pay­ments to two women who had af­fairs with Trump.

When chal­leng­ing the sub­poe­nas, Trump had lost be­fore fed­eral judges and U.S. ap­peals courts in New York and Washington, but he re­peat­edly won rul­ings from the Supreme Court to tem­po­rar­ily block the sub­poe­nas from be­ing hon­ored.

Mon­day’s or­der from the high court did noth­ing to re­solve the mys­tery of why the jus­tices waited for five months to act on Trump’s fi­nal ap­peal in the case.

In July, the jus­tices re­jected Trump’s broad claim that a pres­i­dent is im­mune from a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Chief Jus­tice John Roberts spoke for the court and reaf­firmed the prin­ci­ple that no per­son, in­clud­ing the pres­i­dent, is above the law and be­yond the reach of a grand jury in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

But the 7­2 de­ci­sion in Trump vs. Vance did not end the le­gal fight.

Trump’s lawyers went back be­fore the same judges in New York to ar­gue that the sub­poe­nas were po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated. They lost again in Septem­ber and again went back to the Supreme Court on Oct. 13 ask­ing for a fur­ther de­lay.

Usu­ally grand ju­ries act­ing be­hind closed doors have broad au­thor­ity to de­mand records that could show whether a crime may have been com­mit­ted.

 ?? An­drew Harnik / As­so­ci­ated Press 2020 ?? A demonstrat­or stands at the Supreme Court last July in Washington dur­ing a pre­vi­ous rul­ing over for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s fi­nan­cial records.
An­drew Harnik / As­so­ci­ated Press 2020 A demonstrat­or stands at the Supreme Court last July in Washington dur­ing a pre­vi­ous rul­ing over for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s fi­nan­cial records.

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