Supreme Court Divided Over Trump Tax Returns

Court may reject his claim that he's immune from investigation while in office
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 12, 2020 1:54 PM CDT
Supreme Court Divided Over Trump Tax Returns
In this May 7, 2020 photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting about the coronavirus response in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared likely to reject President Trump's claim that he is immune from criminal investigation while in office. But the court seemed less clear about exactly how to handle subpoenas from Congress and the Manhattan district attorney for Trump's tax, bank, and financial records, the AP reports. The court's major clash over presidential accountability could affect the 2020 presidential campaign, especially if a high court ruling leads to the release of personal financial information before Election Day. The justices heard arguments in two cases by telephone Tuesday that stretched into the early afternoon. There was no apparent consensus about whether to ratify lower court rulings that the subpoenas to Trump's accountant and banks are valid and should be enforced.

The justices will meet by phone before the end of the week to take a preliminary vote on how those cases should come out. The justices sounded particularly concerned in arguments over congressional subpoenas about whether a ruling validating the subpoenas would open the door to harassing future presidents. "In your view, there's no protection for the purpose of preventing harassment of a president," Justice Samuel Alito said to Douglas Letter, the lawyer for the House of Representatives. But in the case involving Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s subpoena for Trump's taxes, the justices showed little interest in the broadest argument made by Jay Sekulow, Trump's lawyer, that a president can't be investigated while he holds office.

(More Supreme Court stories.)

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