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Supreme Court Order Paves Way For N.Y. Grand Jury To Obtain Trump's Financial Records

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a one-sentence order. It denied former President Donald Trump's final request to shield his financial records from New York prosecutors. Co-host of the Trump, Inc. podcast out of WNYC, Andrea Bernstein is following all this and joins us now. Andrea, thanks for being here. Does this mean a New York grand jury will shortly have access to the former president's tax returns and other financial documents?

ANDREA BERNSTEIN, BYLINE: Yes, that is what it means. The district attorney of Manhattan has been seeking these documents since August of 2019, so about a year - over a year and a half now. And his - Trump's accountants have said they were ready to turn over the documents. But Trump kept suing and suing and suing, and courts kept issuing stays to prevent that from happening. And now the final request for a stay by Trump's lawyers has been denied. And the expectation is that DA Cyrus Vance Jr. gets these documents very soon and can proceed with his investigation.

MARTIN: What do we know about the scope of the investigation that Cyrus Vance is conducting?

BERNSTEIN: So we actually know a lot. We know a lot more than we would normally know about a secret grand jury investigation. And the reason is, is because in defending himself, DA Vance has given a lot of information about what he's looking at. He's looking at bank fraud, tax fraud, insurance fraud. And in one court document, DA Vance even listed the possible crimes that Trump or his business associates or his business might have committed. And those include B felonies, which are serious felonies in New York, which, if it's against a person, could carry a sentence of 25 years in prison.

MARTIN: So last year, folks might remember The New York Times obtained copies of Donald Trump's taxes, made them public. Did this case that we're talking about - did this stem from that released by the Times?

BERNSTEIN: So the case actually predated that. And it stemmed - it started after federal prosecutors in New York obtained a guilty plea from Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. But because the Justice Department had a policy of not indicting sitting presidents, the case went over to the Manhattan DA, and he started looking at that and whether the Trump organization had properly recorded payments to Michael Cohen when he paid - made hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. But the case soon expanded - and we know that, again, from the court papers - to look at all of these other things and, in particular, whether Donald Trump, his business or associates undervalued their properties when they had to pay taxes and then overvalued them to banks, say, when they needed to get loans. That would be a crime in New York if that happened.

MARTIN: So just remind us how this case got all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

BERNSTEIN: Yeah. So what I've been thinking about this morning since the quick ruling that we learned about at 9:30 was that this is now the second time Donald Trump has lost twice at every level. He has lost at the district level. He has lost at the appeals level. He lost at the Supreme Court. And round two, he lost again. He succeeded in delaying the case, but it now will go forward. And we may be learning in the coming months whether Donald Trump or his business or associates have committed crimes and whether there will be a prosecution and a trial in New York.

MARTIN: Andrea Bernstein, co-host of the Trump, Inc. podcast out of WNYC. Andrea, thank you.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.