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Washington: Former president Donald Trump has suffered a major legal defeat after the US Supreme Court declined his effort to block a New York grand jury from obtaining his personal and corporate tax records.

Prosecutors in New York City are investigating possible tax, insurance and bank fraud in Trump’s hotel and casino business empire.

The Supreme Court’s decision came as Trump is preparing to return to the public eye with a speech to conservative activists. Credit:AP

The probe, led by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, is believed to be one of the most serious legal threats facing Trump in his post-presidential life.

The decision comes as Trump prepares to make his first public appearance since leaving the White House with an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Monday (AEDT).

“The work continues,” Vance said in a brief statement on Monday following the Supreme Court’s decision.

Vance’s office has sought Trump’s records since 2019 when a New York grand jury issued a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for eight years of the former president’s tax returns.

Trump has tried to fend off the request in an array of different courts, but has now exhausted his legal options with this verdict by the Supreme Court.

The court did not issue any statements and there were no indications that any justices had filed a dissent.

Vance’s investigation, which is shrouded in mystery, is the only known criminal investigation into Trump’s affairs currently under way.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is leading a major probe into the Trump Organisation’s finances. Credit:Bloomberg

The probe appears to be centred on allegations from Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen that Trump’s company manipulated real estate valuations in order to maximise profits and reduce real estate taxes.

Court filings have said the investigation is focused on “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct” at the Trump Organisation, including alleged falsification of records, and insurance and tax fraud.

In a statement, Cohen said: “The Supreme Court has now proclaimed that no one is above the law. Trump will, for the first time, have to take responsibility for his own dirty deeds.”

Vance’s office reportedly interviewed Cohen earlier this month as part of its investigation. It has also recently issued dozens of subpoenas, including to major creditors of the Trump Organisation, suggesting the probe is intensifying.

New York state Attorney-General Letitia James is leading a separate civil probe into whether Trump’s company falsely reported property values to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.

Trump has remained largely silent since leaving office and being barred from social media platforms such as Twitter.

But he re-entered the headlines last week by issuing a scathing statement attacking Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell as a “dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack”.

Trump was responding to a speech by McConnell on the Senate floor in which he said that the former president was “practically and morally responsible” for the January 6 assault on the Capitol.

At CPAC, an annual gathering of conservative activists, Trump is expected to talk about the future of the Republican Party and attack the Biden administration – in particular for its relaxation of immigration and asylum rules.

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