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 one-line 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 revealed 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 the former president, 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 G. Roberts Jr. 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 7-2 decision in Trump v. 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.
This case involves “the first state subpoena issued to a sitting president,” they said at the time. “Its near limitless reach — in time, scope and geographic reach — has all the hallmarks of a fishing expedition.”
Usually grand juries acting behind closed doors have broad authority to demand records that could show whether a crime may have been committed.
But Trump’s lawyers insisted he was shielded because of his status as president, and they succeeded in winning delays, including after he had lost his bid for reelection.