The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that President Trump can be subpoenaed over his financial and tax records and would not, in a separate case, issue a ruling on whether congressional committees can have access to Trump’s financial records, throwing the issues back to lower courts. In effect, the Supreme Court punted on both.
“The Supreme Court sends case back to Lower Court, arguments to continue. This is all a political prosecution. I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!” he said.
The Supreme Court sends case back to Lower Court, arguments to continue. This is all a political prosecution. I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2020
Old money and Democrat powerhouse family Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance subpoenaed the president’s records as part of a probe into alleged wrongdoing by the president and his organization on the first issue. On the second issue, House committees subpoenaed Trump’s records as part of an effort to politically hamper policies of the administration and stymie the president’s reelection prospects. Both rulings were 7-2.
“President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s majority opinion in the New York case. The president “may raise further arguments as appropriate,” in lower courts.
In a second case, the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank. The Financial Service Committee also subpoenaed Capital One. The House will not get them at this point.
“Without limits on its subpoena powers, Congress could ‘exert an imperious control’ over the Executive Branch and aggrandize itself at the President’s expense, just as the Framers feared,” Justice Roberts wrote, in defense of the president’s case.
“When Congress seeks information ‘needed for intelligent legislative action,’ it ‘unquestionably’ remains ‘the duty of all citizens to cooperate,'” the Chief Justice explained. But, he said, subpoenas from Congress to the president “implicate special concerns regarding the separation of powers. The courts below did not take adequate account of those concerns.”
The president’s legal team claimed a win. “We are pleased that in the decisions issued today, the Supreme Court has temporarily blocked both Congress and New York prosecutors from obtaining the President’s tax records,” Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said. “We will now proceed to raise additional Constitutional and legal issues in the lower courts.”
Vance was happy not to get thrown out of court. “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. Our investigation, which was delayed for almost a year by this lawsuit, will resume, guided as always by the grand jury’s solemn obligation to follow the law and the facts, wherever they may lead.”
Democrats cheered one of the decisions. “The court has reaffirmed the Congress’ authority to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said.
But conservative Justice Clarence Thomas dissented: “I would hold that Congress has no power to issue a legislative subpoena for private, nonofficial documents—whether they belong to the President or not. Congress may be able to obtain these documents as part of an investigation of the President, but dissenting to do so, it must proceed under the impeachment power. Accordingly, I would reverse the judgments of the Courts of Appeals.”
Thomas commented on the court dodging the second issue: “The President also sought relief from enforcement of the subpoena, however, and he asked this Court to allow further proceedings on that question if we rejected his claim of absolute immunity. The Court inexplicably fails to address this request, although its decision leaves the President free to renew his request for an injunction against enforcement.”