Supreme Court Backs NY Access to Trump Taxes, Blocks House

US President Donald Trump speaks about today's Supreme Court rulings calling them'part of a political witch-hunt and a hoax, during a roundtable discussion with members of the Hispanic community in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington DC

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President Trump's legal team called the ruling - along with a decision in a related case on a NY grand jury subpoena - a legal victory.

The dual opinions that the Supreme Court issued Thursday concerning the release of President Trump's financial records amount to a sound defeat for the White House's claims for aggrandized executive power.

Despite a second Supreme Court ruling that blocks Congress from getting Trump's records for now, Toobin says that the President still has reason to worry.

In the case regarding the request from the NY prosecutors, the Supreme Court ruled by a majority of seven to two that the president did not have absolute immunity from criminal investigation.

Pelosi said, "we will continue to press our case in the lower courts".

Legal experts say that the process of filing criminal charges against Trump in NY and settling the issue of what standards Congress must meet to subpoena the president could both take months.

In oral arguments early May, Trump's attorneys asked for "temporary presidential immunity" against the prosecutor's subpoena.

"The Third Circuit Court of Appeals" judgement that federal agencies had no authority to exempt the Little Sisters in the first place "was erroneous", Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his majority opinion. Mazars USA, Trump's accounting firm, holds the tax returns and has indicated it would comply with a court order. The cases were the last to be released of the high court's term, which dragged into July because of the coronavirus pandemic. In both, a broad court majority rejected Trump's and the Justice Department maximal positions that put the President above oversight and investigation.

Trump has long fumed about prosecutors and attorneys from NY, ousting two of them from office (including Indian-American Preet Bharara), while claiming absolute Presidential immunity.

SupCt media stakeout
Supreme Court to Rule on Trump Financial Records Cases

Unlike other presidents since the Watergate era of the 1970s, Trump refused to disclose his tax returns and has kept secret the details of his business dealings.

However, if the NY grand jury indicts the president and Vance files charges against him before the November election, the contents of his financial records could become public through that process.

The 7-2 ruling authored by Chief Justice John Roberts means that the subpoena issued to Trump's long-term accounting firm, Mazars LLP, for various financial records to be turned over to a grand jury as part of a criminal investigation can be enforced.

Judges appointed by Mr Nixon and Mr Clinton voted against them in the cases.

"The president is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need", Roberts wrote for the court.

"The Supreme Court was right to, in the face of outrageous legal challenges from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, allow the Trump administration to protect the freedom of these religious nuns and so many other religiously affiliated groups", Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Ryan Anderson said.

"While congressional subpoenas "may" be enforceable, courts below did not adequately consider separation of powers concerns", McQuade tweeted. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!.

Trump, for his part, vociferously defended himself Thursday. He added that Trump may still raise objections to the scope and relevance of the subpoenas.

Vance and the House Oversight and Reform Committee sought records from Mazars concerning Trump and his businesses based on payments that Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged to keep two women from airing their claims of decade-old extramarital affairs with Trump during the 2016 presidential race.

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