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Supreme Court rejects Trump's effort to stop prosecutors from getting his tax records

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CBS News reporter Melissa Quinn joined "Red and Blue" to break down the latest orders from the Supreme Court, including an order on former President Trump's tax returns, a defamation case against Mr. Trump, and a pair of election-related lawsuits in Pennsylvania.

Video Transcript

- As we mentioned, the Supreme Court has rejected a last ditch attempt by former President Donald Trump to block prosecutors from getting his financial information. The order clears the way for a New York grand jury to obtain Mr Trump's tax records. Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance first began investigating Mr. Trump in 2018.

CBS News reporter Melissa Quinn has been following this and joins me now with more. Hi there, Melissa. So in July, the Supreme Court ruled that the subpoena of Mr Trump's records was constitutional. So why was their release delayed until now?

MELISSA QUINN: Well, if you remember back in July, the Supreme Court rejected President Trump's claims that he was entitled to absolute immunity. But what the Supreme Court did say was, if you want to go back to the lower courts and challenge the subpoena on the grounds that it was overly broad or issued in bad faith, you can go ahead and do that. And that's exactly what President Trump did.

Him and his attorneys filed a Second Amendment complaint with the federal district court up in New York. Unfortunately, for the former President he lost at the district court level and again at the appellate court level before the Second Court of Appeals. And then back in October, the President returned to the Supreme Court to ask the justices to put that lower court ruling on hold and essentially block Cy Vance from enforcing that subpoena for his tax records.

So now after several very long months of waiting to see exactly what the justices will do, they told us earlier this morning that they are rejecting that request. And as you mentioned, this now paves the way for Cy Vance to gain access to the records that the President has been desperately fighting to keep out of his hands.

- And Manhattan DA Cy Vance was initially investigating hush money payments made during Donald Trump's 2016 campaign to adult film star Stormy Daniels by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Well, today the Supreme Court turned away a defamation case that Daniels brought against Mr. Trump. Did justices say why?

MELISSA QUINN: Yeah. Unfortunately, we don't know why the Supreme Court declined to take up this case. We also don't know which, if any of the justices, wanted to hear it in the first place. This was filed by Stormy Daniels back in 2018 after the President sent a tweet essentially calling her a liar.

The federal district court in California actually ruled in favor of President Trump and dismissed that defamation lawsuit against him. And the Ninth Circuit agreed with that lower court ruling. So in turning away the case, that Ninth Circuit ruling actually remains intact. So it's a small victory for the President here.

- Well, the Supreme Court has also declined to take up legal challenges to Pennsylvania's election rules. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented. Why?

MELISSA QUINN: So there were a couple reasons why Justice Thomas said that these two cases actually would be really good for the Supreme Court to hear. One of the reasons had to do with timing. We are now several months after the 2020 presidential election and the number of ballots at issue here were not going to be enough to have any impact on the outcome of the election. We're also now a little less than two years away from the next presidential-- or federal election, excuse me. So Justice Thomas argued that this would have been a good opportunity for the Supreme Court to really set clear rules here.

The other argument by Justice Thomas had to do with the key question in this case, that being whether non-legislative officials had the authority to change election rules in the first place. Justice Thomas believes, as he wrote in his dissent, that this is an issue that is not going away. So again, this provided the Supreme Court with a perfect opportunity to set the clear rules there as to what authority these officials have.

He actually criticized the decision by the Court not to take up the case, calling it baffling and befuddling. And he argued that, in doing nothing, this is only going to invite further confusion and erode voter confidence.

- All right. CBS News reporter Melissa Quinn. Melissa, thank you very much.

MELISSA QUINN: Thank you.