The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a New York grand jury can subpoena President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records.
In the seven to two ruling on Thursday, the court said the president was not “absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers.”
It stated that Trump was also not “entitled to a heightened standard of need.”
The president’s lawyers had submitted that an incumbent U.S. president should be immune to a criminal investigation.
Analysts say the decision is a big blow to the administration, and has set the stage for fierce partisan battle ahead of the November election.
The ruling could give prosecutors access to records of Trump’s business dealings, which the president fought hard to protect since he assumed office in 2016.
It also promises to pose a huge challenge to the president’s re-election bid.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports Trump’s financial record is already becoming a big issue in the run up to the polls.
Supporters of presumed Democratic Party Candidate, Joe Biden, are asking him to make the release of the tax returns a condition to face Trump in impending debates.
However, the apex court came short of granting the Manhattan District Attorney’s request to directly access the president’s financial records, throwing it back to a lower court.
Trump immediately reacted to the ruling, describing it as a “political prosecution” and “prosecutorial misconduct.”
“The Supreme Court sends case back to lower court, arguments to continue. This is all a political prosecution.
“I won the Mueller witch-hunt and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this presidency or administration,” he said.
Meanwhile, the court in another 7-2 ruling, blocked the U.S. House of Representatives’ request to access the same information.
Citing concerns over separation of powers, the court asked for more specific reasons for the House’s demands, and also referred the case to a lower court.
One of Trump’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, said the legal team would continue to fight both cases in the lower courts.
“We are pleased that in the decisions issued today, the Supreme Court has temporarily blocked both Congress and New York prosecutors from obtaining the President’s financial records.
“We will now proceed to raise additional constitutional and legal issues in the lower courts,” Sekulow said.