Former President Donald Trump's financial records have been the source of endless debate since he declined to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential election, or at any point since.
Now they are once again in the news: Thanks to a new ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, Trump's accountants must provide his financial records to Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. as part of a grand jury investigation into Trump and the Trump Organization, for possible tax violations. Vance's office also revealed in August that Trump and his company could be under investigation for possible insurance and bank fraud.
However, while Vance's office can now require that Trump's longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, turn over the records to a New York grand jury, as NBC News noted, state law requires that grand jury proceedings, and the evidence presented in them, remain confidential.
In fact, the only way that the Trump financial records given to the grand jury will ever enter the public domain is if Vance's office eventually brings criminal charges and includes the records, or portions of them, as evidence in a potential criminal complaint, which would be part of a public court filing.
With Vance's office having revealed little information about the investigation to this point, it is hard to know how long it could take for the grand jury to decide whether there is a basis for charges.
Trump's legal team had sought to block a grand jury subpoena from Vance's office for the former president's records, including several years of his personal and corporate tax returns. But a Monday order from the nation's highest court, with no noted dissents, rejected Trump's latest and last available attempt to shield those records.
Since Trump has no further legal recourse to prevent Vance's office from enforcing its subpoena seeking the records from Mazars USA, a failure to comply could result in the firm being held in contempt of court. Mazars has said in the past that the firm will comply with the final order of the court system.
The Supreme Court's ruling came just a few days after The New York Times reported that Vance's office hired a former federal prosecutor, Mark Pomerantz, to join the Trump investigation. Pomerantz's background, which includes a wealth of experience working on white-collar fraud cases, fueled speculation that the investigation by Vance's office is ramping up.
A spokesman for Vance indicated on Monday that the office would move quickly to enforce its subpoena on Mazars USA, CNBC previously reported.
"The work continues," Vance tweeted Monday.
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