Trump Attacks Supreme Court Ruling That He’s Not Immune From Criminal Tax Investigation
President Donald Trump attacked a pair of Supreme Court rulings regarding his tax returns and financial records on Thursday, calling the decisions “political prosecution.”
The decisions do not guarantee the release of the president’s records before the Nov. 3 election, but the court rebuffed Trump’s argument that a sitting president is immune from criminal investigation.
“This is all a political prosecution,” Trump tweeted. “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!”
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!
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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2020
In two sets of 7-2 decisions, the Supreme Court ruled that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can investigate allegations of campaign finance violations and that House Democrats could potentially subpoena his financial records from the Trump Organization’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, and two banks.
Vance called the ruling “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,” he said.
While not required by law, every elected president since Richard Nixon has released his tax returns annually. Though Trump initially promised he would disclose his finances during the 2016 campaign, he has since gone to extraordinary lengths to keep the documents secret.
The cases will return to lower courts for additional hearings, a move Trump is partially satisfied by.
“Well, the rulings were basically starting all over again, sending everything back down to the lower courts and you start all over again,” he said at the White House on Thursday. “And so, from a certain point, I’m satisfied. From another point, I’m not satisfied, because, frankly, this is a political witch hunt, the likes of which nobody’s ever seen before.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Thursday that the rulings were “a win for the president,” because the decisions “laid out a road map” with “ample arguments” to be used in the lower courts.
Trump attorney Jay Sekulow seconded McEnany’s optimism in a statement.
“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 financial records,” he said. “We will now proceed to raise additional Constitutional and legal issues in the lower courts.”
However, the court rebuked the idea that a sitting president cannot be criminally charged, as Trump’s attorneys had claimed, arguing that Trump could shoot someone on Fifth Ave. and not face criminal consequences.
Chief Justice John Roberts said Trump still has the same legal protections as any citizen, “including the right to challenge the subpoena on any grounds permitted by state law, which usually include bad faith and undue burden or breadth,” but cannot claim absolute immunity.
Writing for the majority opinion, Roberts argued that “the public has a right to every man’s evidence.”
“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. We reaffirm that principle today,” Roberts wrote, referring to the 1807 decision in which President Thomas Jefferson was ordered to hand over evidence in Aaron Burr’s treason trial.
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