In it’s final opinion session of the 2019-2020 term, the Supreme Court ruled on two cases today involving President Trump. In the first, the high court found that Trump is not immune from subpoenas on his tax returns. Crucially, however, prosecutors cannot have the documents now.
In Trump v. Vance, a 7-2 ruling, Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that “everyman evidence” such as tax returns may be subpoenaed, and the heightened standard argued by the defense does not apply. Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.
This outcome is both a win and a loss for Trump. On the positive side, any finding from the tax returns, no matter how small, would be grist for the liberal media, and another distraction during the campaign season. Therefore, according to conventional wisdom, the less they have, the better.
The negative outcome is that the matter remains unresolved, therefore the issue will likely be used to taunt the president over the coming months. Indeed, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman suggested yesterday that Biden should refuse to debate Trump until his taxes are a matter of public record.
Lastly, the possibility of a leak exists. Prosecutor Cyrus Vance is conducting a confidential grand jury investigation. If he receives the financial documents before November, there is a chance that his office might leak material to the press. Given the past three and half years, the prospect of a leak seems more likely than less.
In the second case, Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, the court stated that lower courts had not fully resolved “separation of powers concerns”. No ruling was made, so the case was kicked back down to a lower court. House Democrats will not be able to access the president’s tax returns until the case is resolved, which will likely not be until after the election.
Mazars is a win for Trump. Similar to the first case, the matter remains unresolved, but a confidential grand jury receiving Trumps records is one thing. House Democrats led by Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler are quite another.
The mainstream media, including Fox News, is claiming that today’s ruling in Vance and vacated ruling in Mazars represent losses for Trump. In fact, despite the headlines and Trump’s angry tweets, the overall outcome is halfway decent for the president.