The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that President Trump is not immune from a subpoena over his financial and tax records to Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., — and declined in a separate case to issue a definitive ruling on whether congressional committees can have access to Trump’s financial records, throwing both issues back to lower courts.
Vance had subpoenaed Trump’s records as part of a criminal investigation into potential wrongdoing by the president and his organization. Multiple House committees had subpoenaed Trump’s records ostensibly as part of an effort at oversight and to inform potential legislation.
“President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need,” Chief Justice John 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.
Roberts also authored the opinion in the House case.
“Without limits on its subpoena powers, Congress could ‘exert an imperious controul’ over the Executive Branch and aggrandize itself at the President’s expense, just as the Framers feared,” he wrote.
The rulings, in the near term, represent a partial victory for the president — he will not have to turn over financial documents in the midst of a fraught presidential election.
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