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The fight to get US President Trump's tax records continued on Thursday with the US Supreme Courts saying that Trump is not immune from ongoing attempt to acquire those records by the Manhattan district attorney, according to NBC.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is seeking years worth of Trump's tax returns as part of his investigation into payments made by Trump to two women as hush-money. In addition to that, House Democrats want financial records from the Trump Organization's accounting firm to decide whether or not foreign powers may have an influence over him, with Russia in particular.
It's highly unlikely that Trump will have to turn over any documents before the coming election even if he is ordered to do so.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that "the public has a right to every man's evidence," regarding his decision on the case, adding, "Since the earliest days of the Republic, 'every man' has included the president of the United States. Beginning with Jefferson and carrying on through Clinton, presidents have uniformly testified or produced documents in criminal proceedings when called upon by federal courts."
Roberts also wrote, "(W)e cannot conclude that absolute immunity is necessary or appropriate under Article II or the Supremacy Clause."
In both rulings, the decisions were split 7-2 as Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas ruled in favour of Trump. This could mean that the case could go back to Lower Court and be dragged out much longer.
"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," said Jay Sekulow, Trump's attorney. "We will now proceed to raise additional Constitutional and legal issues in the lower courts."
Manhattan District Attorney Vance was also happy with the ruling, calling it "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," said the prosecutor in a statement.
The subpoena is nevertheless a distraction from Trump's official duties argued his lawyers and they claim is targets him by naming him personally and seeking his private records.
However, President Richard Nixon was also issued a subpoena regarding White House tapes amid the Watergate scandal and President Bill Clinton was subject to a civil lawsuit while in office, despite the great distractions those incidents caused.
Roberts said during the congressional case that the lower courts previously "did not take adequate account of the significant separation of powers concerns implicated by congressional subpoenas for the president's information."
"The standards proposed by the president and the solicitor general—if applied outside the context of privileged information—would risk seriously impeding Congress in carrying out its responsibilities," said Roberts, adding, "The House's approach fails to take adequate account of the significant separation of powers issues raised by congressional subpoenas for the president's information
"Far from accounting for separation of powers concerns," continued Roberts. "The House's approach aggravates them by leaving essentially no limits on the congressional power to subpoena the president's personal records. Any personal paper possessed by a president could potentially 'relate to' a conceivable subject of legislation, for Congress has broad legislative powers that touch a vast number of subjects."
Mazars, the Trump Organization's accounting firm is being asked to hand over years worth of financial records by the Democratic majorities of three House committees.
"A careful reading Supreme Court ruling related to the president's financial records is not good news for President Trump. The court has reaffirmed the Congress's authority to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people." said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"No matter how much he wishes it to be true, President Trump is not king." said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.