Supreme Court hands win to N.Y. prosecutors on Trump financial records, but not yet Congress

The United States Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Manhattan district attorney’s demand for President Donald Trump’s tax returns, but kept a hold on Trump’s financial records that Congress has been seeking for more than a year.

The outcome in the two cases will allow Trump, at least for now, to continue to shield his financial records.

The justices rejected 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 records. The tax returns are being sought as part of a New York grand-jury investigation.

Because the grand jury process is confidential, the rulings make it likely that none of Trump’s financial records will become public soon.

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 in the congressional case returns that case to lower courts, with no clear prospect for when the case might ultimately be resolved. The tax returns case also is headed back to a lower court.

“Congressional subpoenas for information from the president, however, implicate special concerns regarding the separation of powers,” Roberts wrote in the congressional case. “The courts below did not take adequate account of those concerns.”

Read the Supreme Court decision in Trump et al. v. Mazars:

Trump reacted with the disappointment to the decisions.

“The Supreme Court sends case back to Lower Court, arguments to continue,” he tweeted. “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!”

‘Tremendous victory’: Vance

The subpoenas by the Democratic-led committees are not directed at Trump himself. Instead, the committees are requesting records from Deutsche Bank, Capital One and the Mazars USA accounting firm. Mazars is also the recipient of a subpoena from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. 

Vance and the House’s oversight and reform committee are seeking records from Mazars concerning Trump and his businesses based on payments that Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged to keep two women — Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal — from airing their claims of decade-old extramarital affairs with Trump during the 2016 presidential race.

“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 in a statement.

The fight over the congressional subpoenas has significant implications regarding a president’s power to refuse a formal request from Congress. In a separate fight at the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., over a congressional demand for the testimony of former White House counsel Don McGahn, the administration is making broad arguments that the president’s close advisers are “absolutely immune” from having to appear.

In two earlier cases that had some similarities, the Supreme Court acted unanimously in requiring President Richard Nixon to turn over White House tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor, and in allowing a sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill Clinton to go forward.

Read the Supreme Court decision in Trump v. Vance:

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CBC | World News