COURT RULES AGAINST TRUMP BUT KEEPS HIS TAXES PRIVATE FOR NOW
WASHINGTON — Rejecting President Donald Trump’s complaints that he’s being harassed, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of a New York prosecutor’s demands for the billionaire president’s tax records. But in good political news for Trump, his taxes and other financial records almost certainly will be kept out of the public eye at least until after the November election.
In a separate case, the justices kept a hold on banking and other documents about Trump, family members and his businesses that Congress has been seeking for more than a year. The court said that while Congress has significant power to demand the president’s personal information, it is not limitless.
The court turned away the broadest arguments by Trump’s lawyers and the Justice Department that the president is immune from investigation while he holds office or that a prosecutor must show a greater need than normal to obtain the tax records. But it is unclear when a lower court judge might order the Manhattan district attorney’s subpoena to be enforced.
Trump is the only president in modern times who has refused to make his tax returns public, and before he was elected, he promised to release them. He didn’t embrace Thursday’s outcome as a victory even though it is likely to prevent his opponents in Congress from obtaining potentially embarrassing personal and business records ahead of Election Day.
He lashed out declaring that “It’s a pure witch hunt, it’s a hoax” and calling New York, where he has lived most of his life, “a hellhole.”
The rejection of Trump’s claims of presidential immunity marked the latest instance where his broad assertion of executive power has been rejected.
Trump’s two high court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined the majority in both cases along with Chief Justice John Roberts and the four liberal justices. Roberts wrote both opinions.
The ruling returns the congressional case to lower courts, with no clear prospect for when it might ultimately be resolved.
Promising to keep pressing the case in the lower courts, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday’s decision “is not good news for President Trump.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said his investigation, on hold while the court fight played out, will now resume.
“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,” Vance said.
The records were being sought for a criminal investigation by Vance are part of a broader probe that includes payments made to buy the silence of two women, porn star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal, who claim they had affairs with the president before the 2016 presidential election. Trump has denied them.
President Donald Trump on Thursday complained about what he calls a “witch hunt” by New York prosecutors to investigate his tax records.