COURT RULES AGAINST TRUMP BUT KEEPS HIS TAXES PRI­VATE FOR NOW

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD - BY MARK SHER­MAN

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.

EVAN VUCCI/AP

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Thurs­day com­plained about what he calls a “witch hunt” by New York pros­e­cu­tors to in­ves­ti­gate his tax records.

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