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'Not fair': Trump rages over Supreme Court decisions involving his financial records

The decisions won't make Trump's taxes public imminently.
President Donald Trump speaks during a news briefing at the White House on July 2, 2020.
President Donald Trump speaks during a news briefing at the White House on July 2.Evan Vucci / AP

President Donald Trump assailed a pair of Supreme Court rulings Thursday pertaining to his personal financial records in a Twitter rant that called the decisions "not fair."

In a series of rambling tweets, Trump attacked Democrats and former President Barack Obama, arguing that he is being unfairly targeted while others don't face scrutiny.

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The decisions weren't a clear-cut loss for Trump, who is unlikely to be forced to disclose his tax returns before voters weigh his re-election bid in November, but the court also refused to side with his argument that the presidency protects him from 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!"

"Courts in the past have given 'broad deference,'" he added. "BUT NOT ME!"

The Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision — joined by Trump-appointed justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — that the president isn't immune from the Manhattan district attorney's efforts to obtain his taxes as part of an investigation into hush money payments to two women. In another 7-2 decision, the court also left open the potential for House Democrats to get his financial records from the Trump Organization's accounting firm and two banks.

Trump had waged a coast-to-coast legal battle to keep his tax information private. While presidential candidates have traditionally released their tax returns over the past few decades, it isn't required by law, and although he said he would make the information public during his 2016 campaign, Trump ultimately became the first major-party nominee in four decades not to do so.

The cases will return to lower courts, and the rulings don't mean the president's tax information will become public imminently. It's unlikely that the cases will be settled before Election Day.

The president, however, unloaded on the high court shortly after the ruling.

Complaining that Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden aren't under investigation while he has been under investigations for years, Trump said the Supreme Court "gives a delay ruling that they would never have given for another President."

"This is about PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT," he added.

During a brief appearance at the White House, Trump said Thursday afternoon that he was partly satisfied by the rulings.

"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. "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."

In the majority ruling on Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's efforts to obtain the documents, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that in the U.S. judicial system, "the public has a right to every man's evidence."

Citing the 1807 decision in which Chief Justice John Marshall ordered President Thomas Jefferson to turn over evidence in Aaron Burr's treason trial, Roberts wrote: "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 said the court couldn't accept Trump's argument that he holds absolute immunity from criminal investigation as president. Roberts said Trump still enjoys the same protections as any other 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."

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled decades ago that presidents aren't beyond the reach of the judiciary while in office in a pair of cases involving Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

Attorneys for Trump had argued in the New York case that a sitting president can't be criminally investigated even if he were to shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York City. In the case involving congressional oversight, Trump's team argued that Congress can issue a subpoena only for a legitimate legislative purpose.

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.

As for why he hasn't made his returns public, like his predecessors and rivals, Trump has cited ongoing audits — which take place annually for presidents — as a reason to keep the documents secret.

"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," Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement. "We will now proceed to raise additional Constitutional and legal issues in the lower courts."

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Thursday that the rulings were "a win for the president," adding that the decisions essentially "laid out a road map" with "ample arguments" he could deploy in lower courts.

She said the president hadn't offered her his thoughts on how Gorsuch and Kavanaugh voted, but she said he disagreed with the court's view that the president isn't absolutely immune from investigation.

Democrats quickly claimed victory.

"A careful reading of the Supreme Court rulings related to the president's financial records is not good news for President Trump," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "The Court has reaffirmed the Congress's authority to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people, as it asks for further information from the Congress."

Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, renewed his call for Trump to release his tax records, pointing to his own disclosure of 21 years of returns.

"Mr. President, even Richard Nixon released his tax returns," Biden said. "Mr. President, release your tax returns or shut up."

House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said the rulings "reaffirm a bedrock principle in our democracy: No one — not even the president — is above the law."

"I am disappointed that the court remanded our case to the lower court for a review under a new standard for subpoenas for presidential papers, but I am confident our committee ultimately will prevail," she said.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said "dubious legal arguments advanced" by Trump "were properly rejected by the court."

"We remain confident that we will ultimately prevail," he said. "And in light of the president's tweets this morning, he appears to believe the same."

Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that the rulings "sadly will not end the Democrats' partisan obsession."

"Americans around the country deserve better than the Democrats' never-ending political games," he said.

And Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, said the ruling pertaining to congressional oversight will allow for the House to "stop wasting time and money on political escapades that help no Americans but serve solely to help Democrats maintain their grip on power."