The New York case concerned a subpoena to Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, from the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat. It sought eight years of business and personal tax records in connection with an investigation of the role that Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization played in hush-money payments made in the run-up to the 2016 election.
Mr. Vance expressed satisfaction with the ruling. “This is a tremendous victory for our nation’s system of justice and its founding principle that no one — not even a president — is above the law,” he said in a statement. “Our investigation, which was delayed for almost a year by this lawsuit, will resume, guided as always by the grand jury’s solemn obligation to follow the law and the facts, wherever they may lead.”
Both Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed Michael D. Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, for payments made to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, who claimed that she had an affair with Mr. Trump.
Mr. Cohen was also involved in payments to Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who had also claimed she had a relationship with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the relationships.
Mr. Trump sued to stop the accounting firm from turning over the records, but lower courts ruled against him. In a unanimous ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, said state prosecutors may require third parties to turn over a sitting president’s financial records for use in a grand jury investigation.
The Supreme Court affirmed that ruling.
Chief Justice Roberts drew on history to demonstrate that sitting presidents have been forced to provide information in criminal proceedings, starting with a subpoena to Thomas Jefferson in Aaron Burr’s 1807 trial for treason. Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the president could be subpoenaed.
“In the two centuries since the Burr trial,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “successive presidents have accepted Marshall’s ruling that the chief executive is subject to subpoena.”