Trump Tax Records: DA Yes, Congress No

Trump Tax Records: DA Yes, Congress No

Trump Tax Records: DA Yes, Congress No

President Trump got half a win today. The Manhattan DA can get subpoena his tax records for an investigation, but Congress is denied that fun for now.

The Trump tax records have long been a bone of contention between the president and Congress. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance (himself a political actor) has wanted them for his own investigations into alleged campaign finance violations. Now, Vance has no love for Trump and would be glad to “get” him with anything he could on a fishing expedition through his tax records. While the Supreme Court acknowledges that Vance has the right to subpoena for the records, they punted the case back down to the lower courts, where the Trump legal team can continue to raise objections to Vance’s need for those records.

Vance, in the New York case, had argued in a brief that “[t]he subpoenas seek records, dating from 2011 to the present, concerning transactions that are unrelated to any official acts of the President, and that occurred largely before Petitioner assumed office.”

He also noted that among the potential criminal issues the president is under investigation for is alleged “hush money” given to women that he had affairs with, which may have equated to a campaign finance violation in which Trump was complicit.”

Trump used personal lawyers rather than White House lawyers for both cases. Those lawyers made a sweeping argument in the criminal case about the level of immunity a president enjoys while in office.”

The decision was 7-2, with Alito and Thomas dissenting.

“President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need,” (Chief Justice) Roberts wrote in the court’s majority opinion in the New York case. The court limited its ruling and the arguments before it to whether Trump has “absolute immunity” and state prosecutors are required to show a “heightened need” in order to obtain documents as part of investigations into a president.”

The president “may raise further arguments as appropriate,” in lower courts in an effort to keep Vance from obtaining his documents, Roberts wrote.”

Obviously, Team Trump wanted the prosecution blocked completely. They didn’t get that, and President Trump was not happy – and he let everyone know it on Twitter.



The other case involved Congress, which went after President Trump’s financial records from two different banks – not his tax returns. To that, SCOTUS told Congress no, they would have to need those records as part of an actual investigation, and carefully consider the separation of powers involved.


Thomas and Alito dissented again, stating that unless Congress is impeaching the president, the legislative branch has no power to demand personal records of anyone. To which Nancy Pelosi smiled and vowed to press the Democrats’ case in the lower courts, all the while knowing that if she keeps a majority in the House (which seems sadly likely) and Trump is re-elected, they will just try and impeach him again.

Trump will treat this as a loss instead of a partial win, because he didn’t get the rulings that he wanted in either case. The Vance case is, obviously, more problematic, but the odds that anything is resolved before the election are pretty much zero. The Vance case is also not likely to be dropped if President Trump does not win re-elction, while Congress would probably give up the pursuit of financial records if Trump was no longer president. The president wanted these cases to be done with, which is why he’s venting on Twitter. What he really needs to do now is let his legal team deal with this in the lower courts, and focus on beating Biden in November.

Featured image: President Donald Trump on October 2, 2019, Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead, White House Flickr account, public domain

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1 Comment
  • Harlan says:

    “President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need,”

    But doesn’t there have to be a specific crime being investigated first, rather than inventing one after the fact, which is obviously the purpose of this charade?

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