The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that President Donald Trump cannot prevent a New York prosecutor from viewing his tax returns, but temporarily blocked investigators from Congress from accessing those records.
The rulings are a setback to Trump’s claim that as president he has absolute immunity in a criminal investigation. But at the same time they may allow him to keep his finances private until after the November presidential election, in which the Republican magnate is seeking reelection.
The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 against Trump in a case filed by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr, a Democrat seeking to obtain eight years of the president’s financial records regarding an alleged payment of “secret money” made to porn actress Stormy Daniels.
Trump’s attorneys had claimed the president was immune in a criminal investigation, a claim rejected by the highest court.
“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 present evidence when requested in criminal proceedings,” said the ruling.
“We reaffirm that principle today,” said the judges.
The other case before the nation’s highest court concerned a request by Democratic-led Congressional committees to access Trump’s tax returns and financial records.
In another ruling of 7 to 2, the Court sent the case of Congress to a lower court for further consideration, which for Trump is a kind of postponement.
Prosecutor Vance celebrated the Court’s decision as “a tremendous victory for our nation’s justice system and its fundamental principle that no one, not even a president, is above the law.”
“Our investigation, which has been delayed nearly a year by this lawsuit, will resume, guided as always by the solemn obligation of the grand jury to follow the law and the facts, wherever these lead us,” said Vance.
Even if Trump’s financial records are released to prosecutors by the accounting firm Mazars, they may remain hidden from public view due to grand jury secrecy.
Trump denounced being the victim of “impeachment,” in a series of furious tweets.
“This is about MISCONDUCT OF THE FISCAL,” he said.
“This is all political prosecution,” wrote Trump. “I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to continue fighting in a politically corrupt New York. It is not fair for this Presidency or Administration!”, Added in reference to the investigation of the special prosecutor Robert Mueller on the Russian plot.
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Democratic leader in Congress, said she will continue to push for Trump’s financial records to be released to lawmakers.
“Congress will continue to do oversight for the people, maintaining the separation of powers that is the great thing about our Constitution,” Pelosi said. “We will continue to press our case in the lower courts.”
Unlike all his predecessors since the 1970s, Trump, who made his fortune an election campaign issue, refuses to publish his tax returns. Its lack of transparency fuels speculation about the extent of its wealth and about possible conflicts of interest.