Donald Trump Ordered to Hand Over Tax Returns to Prosecutors

Donald Trump has been ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to hand over his tax returns and other financial documents to New York prosecutors.

The former President of the United States has been refusing to disclose the documents for many years, despite the precedent that presidential candidates should do so, reports BBC.

A lower court had earlier ruled that the records were pertinent to a criminal investigation. 

The ruling does not necessarily mean the files will be made public.

The financial documents should be given as evidence to the grand jury to be investigated in secret, which could only then become public as part of an indictment.

A grand jury is set up by the prosecutor to decide if there is sufficient proof to prosecute the case. The jury is granted investigative powers and can issue a subpoena to force people to testify.

The US Supreme Court's decision is a blow to Trump, who has been in a legal battle to protect his records from a grand jury for months.

Last July, the Supreme Court ruled that Trump's financial records could be examined by prosecutors in New York.

But lawyers representing Trump challenged that ruling, suggesting that the court filing was "wildly overbroad" and issued in bad faith.

On Monday, the court rejected the lawyers' argument.

According to US media, this was the last opportunity for the former president, who left the White House last month ahead of President Joe Biden's inauguration, to keep the records private.

Trump has continuously denied wrongdoing and has called the investigation into his tax affairs a "witch hunt".

In a statement on Monday, Trump accused New York prosecutors of unfairly targeting him and said that the Supreme Court "never should have let this 'fishing expedition' happen".

What's the background to this?

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat, has been attempting for months to get Trump's personal and corporate tax returns worth eight years.

Vance investigated claims involving the payment of hush money to two women who said they had sexual affairs with Trump prior to the 2016 presidential election.
The district attorney has said that the tax returns and financial records are pertinent to the case.

It is alleged that the payments were made by Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Trump denies the affairs took place and described the Supreme Court's ruling last July as "purely political".

Lawyers for Vance later said the inquiry would extend beyond purported hush money payments.

They citied newspaper articles about supposed bank and insurance fraud at the Trump Organization and congressional testimony by Cohen, who said the former president would devalue his assets when trying to reduce his taxes.

Trump, who inherited money from his father and went on to become a property developer, is the first president since Richard Nixon in the 1970s not to have made his tax returns public.

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