The Supreme Court just slapped down Donald Trump again, with Justices he appointed joining in declaring that he isn’t immune from subpoenas and can’t stop Congress from getting his financial records. It’s a beautiful day because this decision probably makes Donald Trump very VERY angry. The decisions handed down today (and yes that’s plural) are complicated but a resounding defeat for the President. So, yay. But it still wasn’t a complete win, as the court also punted on the tax returns issue.
The news on this is definitely confusing, so let’s break it down. The court delivered two very similar rulings on this issue on two different cases. The first case was Trump v. Mazars, LLP, where the issue was about congressional subpoenas for Donald Trump’s tax financial documents from Congress. The subpoenas were issued to Deutsche Bank, Capital One, and Mazars USA directly, not to Trump, who sought to block them on the grounds that he is temporarily immune from prosecution and investigation while in office.
In an opinion, by Chief Justice Roberts, the court ruled that Congress probably did have the right to get those records from Trump and that his immunity claim was not going to fly. But they remanded the decision to the lower courts so that they address specific issues and test regarding if Congress has this kind of power. Which means Congress—and the American public—is unlikely to see those tax returns before the 2020 presidential election.
But this wasn’t the only case that was decided today. The court, along the same 7-2 battle lines, also rejected the temporary immunity argument in a second case, Trump v. Vance, in which the New York County District Attorney’s office issued a subpoena for the same records in connection to an investigation ahead of a grand jury indictment. Again the court held that the president had no temporary immunity that would prevent such subpoenas.
The big defeat here is that two the Trump appointees, Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, ruled against the president that put them on the court and who probably thought he had them in his corner. The only dissents came from Justice Alito and Justice Thomas.
The big question is of course: what happens now. Well, the cases have been sent back to the courts and in terms of the congressional subpoena, it does not look like we’ll see those records in that context before the election, but it’s not clear if that will be the case with the New York request. This means that the DA can get the records and the investigation into whether Trump illegally paid hush money to Stormy Daniels or broke the law in other ways in connection to the 2016 election will continue. All in all, a bad day for Trump.
The fact that we still probably won’t see Trump’s taxes or financials ahead of the election is somewhat frustrating, but on the other hand, I’m not sure how many voters it would sway to see proof that Trump is a liar, a bad businessman and probably a criminal. We know all of this already and the Trump loyalists won’t care if there’s more evidence that this terrible guy is a terrible guy.
What really matters is that he lost and will continue to lose and maybe, finally, be held accountable to someone for his crimes someday.
(via: NPR, Image: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
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