SCOTUS Rules Against Trump Over Financial Records, But the President Walks Away the Winner

Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks
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President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attend the 2020 Salute to America event Saturday, July 4, 2020, on the South Lawn of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)


Somehow, Donald Trump managed to lose the cases revolving around his financial records today but still walk away the winner. How did he manage that feat? As with most things to come out of the Roberts court, it’s complicated and a matter of timing.

The first case involved the New York district attorney, an outspoken anti-Trumper who is pursing a clearly political investigation of the President. Mr. Vance sought Trump’s tax returns and other financial records via subpoena. The White House lost that case 7-2, with the majority noting that blanket immunity does not apply in this case to stop the subpoena.

But, and this is the important part, the case is being kicked back down to the lower court with a roadmap provided for how to keep the case going.

What you are seeing here is an invitation by Roberts for the Trump administration to re-challenge the subpoena on different grounds. Though they may also lose that fight in the end, it will not be a fight decided before the election. In other words, Trump has successfully shelved this issue until it will no longer matter politically.

I will note that given the implications of this investigation on a personal level, it would behoove the President to actually do a better job of trying to win re-election. If he loses, Vance is not going to lose interest. He’s going to do everything he can to “take down” Trump, even out of the White House. Trump will also lose some of the arguments against the subpoena if he becomes a private citizen in early 2021.


The second decision is also technically a “loss” for Trump, but only in the most narrow terms. In reality, Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler, and House Congress get slapped down hard by SCOTUS, with not even the liberals of the court agreeing that their fishing expedition is proper.

Those stipulations are the new test being applied by Roberts and nothing House Democrats are currently doing passes those tests. This essentially puts the kibosh on their Trump document witch hunt, though I’m sure they are creative enough to find other things to pursue.

The first passage in that tweet is from the majority, which calls out House Democrats for their obvious power grab. Thomas takes it a step further in his dissent, and he’s 100% right. If Democrats want to subpoena documents like this, it should be done as part of the formal impeachment process. The idea that the House can operate as it’s own judicial system, whereby it can demand whatever it wants from a president for any reason, is not Constitutional and a clear violation of the separation of powers.


In the end, what both of these decisions mean is that nothing is going to happen before the election. These records are now largely irrelevant. If Trump wins re-election, he no longer has to fear their release politically, as he’d be a lame duck. If he loses, they become meaningless from a political standpoint for Democrats as well, as he’s no longer in office.

Trump may have “lost,” but he clearly walks away the winner here.




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