Trump tax battle likely heading back to Supreme Court

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump reacts while speaking during a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S., December 18, 2019./ REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump reacts while speaking during a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S., December 18, 2019./ REUTERS

Donald Trump suffered another blow Wednesday in his battle to prevent New York prosecutors from obtaining his tax returns, meaning the dispute is likely heading to the Supreme Court for a second time.

Three federal appeal court judges dismissed the US president’s request to block a subpoena of documents held by the accountancy firm Mazars, which handles his taxes.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance wants the returns, which cover 2011 to 2018, as part of an investigation into Trump’s business affairs.

The prosecutor is investigating possible tax evasion, insurance fraud and falsification of accounts.

Vance is also seeking the records in connection with an alleged hush money payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Prosecutors claim the payment was made during the 2016 presidential campaign, in violation of campaign finance laws.

US presidents are not required by law to release details of their personal finances but every US leader since Richard Nixon has done so.

Trump has broken with this tradition.

His lawyers argued that the subpoena should be blocked, saying the president has immunity from prosecution.

That argument was rejected three times, including by the Supreme Court in July.

Trump’s lawyers returned to a lower court to argue that the subpoena is too broad for the scope of the investigation. They also claimed the probe was politically motivated.

The appeals judges on Wednesday backed an earlier decision by a federal court that Trump’s lawyers had not provided sufficient proof of those claims.

Trump is now expected to turn to the Supreme Court again. His lawyers did not respond to requests for comment from AFP.

Ahead of the November 3 election, the New York Times reported last month that Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

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