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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The U.S. Supreme Court made life considerably more difficult for former President Trump today. The justices tossed out his attempt to stop the ongoing investigation into his personal and business finances. Joining us to talk about it is NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg.

Hi, Nina.

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: So this Trump case started out as one thing, and it seems to have turned into another. Tell us about how this happened.

TOTENBERG: Yes, it started out as an investigation by New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance into allegations that Trump had paid hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and other women to keep them quiet during the 2016 presidential campaign. But over time, the grand jury investigation has morphed into a much bigger probe into Trump's personal and business affairs, an investigation that Trump has doggedly fought all the way to the Supreme Court.

Now, last June, the court, by a 7-2 vote, ruled against him when he was still president, essentially telling him to comply with the DA's subpoenas and leaving the door open just a tiny crack for future challenges. So predictably, Trump did come back, claiming the subpoenas were too broad. And today, in a one-sentence order, the justices basically told him to go away.

SHAPIRO: Now, I told - I said that this makes life more difficult for President Trump. In practical terms, what does it actually mean for him?

TOTENBERG: Basically, it means, hey, welcome to your future as the target of a major grand jury investigation and other investigations as well. While we, the public, won't see his taxes, 11 years' worth of those taxes now have to be turned over to the grand jury and so do other records that, for instance, may show that he overvalued assets on financial statements in order to secure loans and other economic and tax benefits, while at the same time, undervaluing the same properties for other purposes. If any of this can be proved, he could face criminal or civil charges or both - serious stuff. And he's already seen his son, Eric, forced to answer questions under oath in another investigation, this one by the New York attorney general.

SHAPIRO: Now, setting aside Trump's finances, the court also took action on the issue of abortion today. And since the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett last fall, there's been a lot of anticipation from both sides in this debate over where and how fast the court is going to move on the abortion issue. Tell us what the court did today.

TOTENBERG: Today, the court agreed to review a Trump-era rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services that bars health clinics from receiving federal family planning funds if doctors even refer patients to places where they can receive abortions or abortion counseling. Opponents, including the American Medical Association, call it the gag rule, and they challenged in court. They claimed that it's contrary to language in the Affordable Care Act that bars interference between doctors and patients regarding a full range of treatment options. The lower courts split on the issue, and the justices today agreed to resolve it.

SHAPIRO: But this is a rule that the Biden administration is in the process of revoking, so what happens with this case before the court once the rule's revoked?

TOTENBERG: Well, that's a good question. It's going to take time...

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

TOTENBERG: ...(Laughter) For them to revoke the rule. The court won't hear this case until next fall sometime. And by then, it's possible - possible, only possible - it will be moot.

SHAPIRO: And you will be watching it for us as it works its way along.

NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, thanks for your reporting as always.

TOTENBERG: Thanks, Ari. Have a good day.

SHAPIRO: You, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF KAYTRANADA SONG "BUS RIDE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.