SCOTUS: NY Prosecutors Can Pursue Trump’s Financial Records But Congress Can’t For Now
The American public isn’t likely to learn about the president’s financial records before the November election, multiple reports state.
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Manhattan’s district attorney can pursue President Trump’s financial records, but blocked access for House Democrats. The split opinions mean that the American public will not likely learn about Trump’s financial records before the November election, according to multiple reports.
Both cases ended in a 7-2 ruling, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing the court’s majority opinion. Agreeing with the outcome were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan Brett M. Kavanaugh and Neil M. Gorsuch. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented in both cases.
The justices ruled that the president is not immune to state criminal subpoenas in the New York case.
“Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of our Court established that no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding,” Roberts wrote. “We reaffirm that principle today and hold that the President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need.”
However, the justices denied House Democrats access to Trump’s records, at least for now, holding that lower courts needed to more adequately consider the separation of powers with respect to executive and legislative branches.
“Here the President’s information is sought not by prosecutors or private parties in connection with a particular judicial proceeding, but by committees of Congress that have set forth broad legislative objectives,” Roberts wrote. “Congress and the President—the two political branches established by the Constitution—have an ongoing relationship that the Framers intended to feature both rivalry and reciprocity.”
The president’s tax records have been a source of speculation since before he took office; he did not release them as a Republican candidate, while his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton released hers. ProPublica reported that presidents since Richard Nixon “have shared their tax returns in some way or another with the public.”
Investigations by The New York Times have found Trump logged more than $1 billion in losses across nearly a decade as a businessman.
The rulings come after the House issued several subpoenas of the president’s financial records to his accountants and banks, as well as a subpoena by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.
And though the justices rebuked claims from Trump’s attorneys that he is immune to criminal subpoenas while in office, they also ordered further proceedings back to the lower courts, which could postpone when the financial documents might be released.
If lower courts deliver any adverse rulings before November, Trump’s lawyers could once again ask for the Supreme Court to freeze proceedings until after the election, Politico reported.
Trump immediately lashed out after the decisions, claiming “political prosecution.”
“Courts in the past have given “broad deference”. BUT NOT ME!” he also said.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi celebrated this morning’s SCOTUS decision, while reiterating that Trump “is not above the law.”
The cases were decided on the last day of the Supreme Court’s term, during which the justices have made many other consequential rulings. Throughout the term, the court has ruled that a civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers, upheld abortion rights while striking down a restrictive Louisiana law, and decided that employers could deny birth control coverage on religious and moral grounds.