Donald Trump suffered a major legal setback, the United States Supreme Court rejecting his argument that he was immune from investigation during his tenure.
The result of this decision is that New York State prosecutors can go ahead with their attempt to obtain the President’s financial records, including his tax returns.
“Article II and the supremacy clause neither categorically preclude nor require a higher standard for the issue of a state criminal writ to a sitting president,” the court said in its judgment.
Seven judges agreed with the decision. John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were joined by the appointees of Trump, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
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Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito were the only two to dissent.
“This is a huge victory for our country’s justice system and its founding principle that no one – not even a president – is above the law,” said the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, who opposed Mr. Trump in the case.
“Our investigation, which has been delayed for almost a year by this trial, will resume, guided as always by the solemn obligation of the grand jury to respect the law and the facts, wherever they lead.”
Mr. Vance is seeking the President’s financial records as part of a larger investigation into allegations of misconduct involving the Trump Organization.
A second case, this one concerning the fight against subpoenas before Congress, was referred to the lower courts because of “important concerns” regarding the separation of powers.
“The lower courts did not sufficiently address these concerns,” said Chief Justice Roberts.
Both decisions of the Supreme Court are subject to review by the lower courts.
Before running for president, Trump promised he would release his tax returns.
“If I decide to run, I will file my tax returns, absolutely,” he said in 2014.
This changed after he became a candidate. Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump said he couldn’t release them because he was being audited. He promised to release them once the audit was completed, which implies that it would be before the elections.
It never happened. And after Mr. Trump beat Hillary Clinton, his staff argued that there was no longer any need to disclose his statements anyway.
“We argued this throughout the elections. People didn’t care, “said Kellyanne Conway, senior advisor to the White House.
Investigators from New York and Congress have since attempted to get their hands on the financial records, despite the president’s legal objections. This is how the question was brought before the Supreme Court.
“IT’S A WITCH HUNT”
Trump was questioned about court decisions during a White House event today.
“The decisions basically started all over again, sending everything back to the lower courts to start all over again, so from a certain point I am satisfied,” he said.
“On another point, I am not satisfied, because frankly, it is a political witch hunt like no one has ever seen before. It’s a pure witch hunt. It’s a hoax.
“It’s a political witch hunt that continues. It was long before he got here, when Obama and Biden and everyone illegally spied on my campaign.
“They were illegally spying on my campaign and it is a very serious crime. It is the greatest political crime in the history of our country. “
The president then spoke on Twitter, complaining once again that the “totally corrupt” Obama administration “caught” spying on his campaign – “the biggest political crime and the biggest scandal in the history of the United States “- but nothing happened in response.
He also suggested that the Supreme Court treated him differently from other presidents.
“In the past, the courts have shown ‘great deference’. BUT NOT ME! “Said Mr. Trump.
Trump began accusing Obama of committing the “greatest political crime in history” a few months ago.
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At a press conference in mid-May, the president was asked to be more specific.
“What crime do you exactly accuse President Obama of having committed, and do you think the Department of Justice should prosecute him?” asked a reporter.
“Obamagate. It has been going on for a long time. It happens before I get elected, and it’s a shame it happened, “said Mr. Trump.
“And if you look at what’s going on, if you look at all of this published information now – and from what I understand, this is just the beginning – terrible things have happened, and it should never happen in our country again.
“You will see what is going on in the next few weeks, and I would like you to honestly write about it, but unfortunately you choose not to.”
“What exactly is the crime you are accusing him of?” insisted the journalist.
“You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everyone. All you have to do is read the newspapers except yours. “
Simply put, this latest rhetoric represents a dramatic escalation of Trump’s long-standing theory that Obama administration officials, including Obama himself, plotted to illegally spy on his campaign in 2016, then to sabotage his presidency.
“SOMETHING TO HIDE”
NBC correspondent Peter Alexander questioned White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on the issue of tax returns during today’s briefing.
“Are the president’s taxes still under control, and more precisely, which years?” He asked.
“The president’s taxes are still under control. I don’t have years for you, ”replied Ms. McEnany.
“OK, let me ask you, if I can – he could release his taxes at any time,” said Alexander.
“This case went to the Supreme Court. His own candidates ruled against him. Why should the American public not at this point believe that the President has something he is trying to hide? “
“First, let me note something. Taxes are being verified. He said he would release them when they were no longer under control, “said Ms. McEnany.
“The judges did not rule against him. In fact, it was a unanimous opinion that it should be referred to the district court. And they even recognized that the president has a vast arsenal of arguments he can put forward.
“And in fact, I would show that the majority Vance (case) has established a roadmap for the president. Majority Vance stated that the president had “the right to challenge the summons on any ground authorized by state law”, whether, “bad faith or an undue burden or magnitude”.
“So they basically established a roadmap. These judges did not rule against him. “
Alexander was not satisfied with this response. He started again.
“To be clear – OK, fine. I don’t dispute anything you just said. What I’m asking, however, is that the president, whatever the court says, the president can release his taxes whenever he wants.
“So why shouldn’t the Americans at this point believe that the president is not trying to hide something in there?” He asked.
“You know, the media has been asking this question for four years, and for four years the president has said the same thing. His taxes are under control, and when they are no longer under control, he will release them, “said McEnany.
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“HE LOST RESIDENTIALLY”
Legal experts from the United States say the president should be worried about today’s decision.
“He lost a resounding loss, 7-2, including his own court candidates, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch. The Court rejected his broad claims for immunity, and for a president who has sworn to ensure that laws are faithfully executed in our Constitution, the Supreme Court says these are false allegations, “said the analyst. NBC and former US Solicitor General Neal Katyal. .
He said he suspected that Mr. Vance would move “incredibly fast” to get Mr. Trump’s files.
“I think it is entirely possible that all of this would be released before the 2020 elections, in terms of New York prosecutors who get this information and act on it,” he said.
“If I’m Donald Trump, I’m scared right now. Whether before or after the 2020 election, Cy Vance is going to get this material, and it seems pretty damaging to Donald Trump. “
Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano, a former judge, was more circumspect, but also suggested the outcome was bad for Mr. Trump.
“In the end, it may not affect the election, but it will certainly affect the president’s peace of mind,” said Mr. Napolitano.
“It’s July. The subpoena is extensive; this requires 10 years of information. But the accountants say they have it and they are ready to return it. “