Supreme Court sides with Donald Trump in dispute over tax records with House Democrats

Supreme Court sides with Donald Trump in dispute over tax records with House Democrats

The Supreme Court gave President Trump a slight win on Thursday, rejecting House Democrats’ attempts to obtain his financial records through a congressional subpoena.

The ruling was 7-2.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the opinion of the court and said there was an issue with the separation of powers between the branches.

The high court remanded the case back to the lower court for further review, but a result is likely not to come until after the November election.

“Far from accounting for separation of powers concerns, the House’s approach aggravates them by leaving essentially no limits on the congressional power to subpoena the President’s personal records,” the chief justice wrote.

He noted congressional subpoenas must be aimed to obtain information for a legislative purpose — not to prosecute the president for a crime.

“We would have to be ‘blind’ not to see what “[a]ll others can see and understand”: that the subpoenas do not represent a run-of-the-mill legislative effort but rather a clash between rival branches of government over records of intense political interest for all involved,” Justice Roberts added.

The high court directed the lower courts to evaluate if there is a “valid legislative purpose” for the lawmakers’ subpoena and that their request is not overbroad. The justices also directed the lower courts to take into account the burdens imposed on the president.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. would have sided with the president.

In a dissent, Justice Thomas said he would have ruled that Congress doesn’t have powers to obtain personal documents.

“I would hold that Congress has no power to issue a legislative subpoena for private, nonofficial documents — whether they belong to the President or not,” he wrote.

The high court’s ruling comes from a group of legal challenges brought by House Democrats, which subpoenaed eight years of the president’s records from third parties — like his bank and accounting firm — in April 2019, ahead of the formal impeachment probe last year.

Mr. Trump’s legal team had argued that the president had immunity and the Democrats were seeking to harass him.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said the ruling was not a win for the president and that House Democrats will continue to litigate their case in the lower courts, attempting to defend their subpoena power.

“The Court has reaffirmed the Congress’ authority to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people, as it asks for further information from the Congress. Congress’ constitutional responsibility to uncover the truth continues, specifically related to the President’s Russia connection that he is hiding,” the California Democrat said, referencing Democrats’ unfounded allegations that the president conspired with Russian officials to win the 2016 election.

The president reacted to the rulings by saying he is the victim of another political “witch hunt.”

“The Supreme Court sends case back to Lower Court, arguments to continue,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “This is all a political prosecution. 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!”

He added, “Courts in the past have given ‘broad deference’. BUT NOT ME!”

Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

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