President Donald Trump called a 7-2 ruling by the Supreme Court upholding the Manhattan district attorney’s demand for his tax returns a “political witch hunt” Thursday as critics celebrated it as powerful statement about the limits of presidential power.
“Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of our Court established that no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding. We reaffirm that principle today and hold that the President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts wrote in the court’s majority opinion.
Cy Vance’s office subpoenaed Trump’s tax return as part of an investigation into alleged hush money payments made to silence two women who claim to have had affairs with the president.
The justices cited landmark rulings in which President Richard M. Nixon was required to turn over tapes of Oval Office conversations and President Bill Clinton was forced to give evidence in a sexual harassment suit.
The Supreme Court also sent back a case to a lower court Thursday to decide if Congress can get access to President Trump’s financial records.
The president wasted very little time in reacting to the rulings, in which only Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.
“We have a totally corrupt previous Administration, including a President and Vice President who spied on my campaign, AND GOT CAUGHT...and nothing happens to them. This crime was taking place even before my election, everyone knows it, and yet all are frozen stiff with fear. No Republican Senate Judiciary response, NO ‘JUSTICE’, NO FBI, NO NOTHING. Major horror show REPORTS on Comey & McCabe, guilty as hell, nothing happens. Catch Obama & Biden cold, nothing. A 3 year, $45,000,000 Mueller HOAX, failed - investigated everything,” Trump argued in a series of tweets.
“Now the Supreme Court gives a delay ruling that they would never have given for another President. This is about PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT. We catch the other side SPYING on my campaign, the biggest political crime and scandal in U.S. history, and NOTHING HAPPENS. But despite this, I have done more than any President in history in first 3 1/2 years! POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”
Jenna Ellis, senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign and an attorney for the president, said in a statement that the court decisions Thursday only reflect a “delayed victory” for the president.
“This is just a delayed victory for President Trump. The Court is sending both cases back to the lower courts for further proceedings and the President will continue to fight for his constitutionally protected right to be free from congressional and prosecutorial harassment and he will prevail,” she said in a statement on Twitter.
“Congress must respect the separation of powers and cannot articulate any legitimate legislative purpose to satisfy the criteria set forth by the Supreme Court, and Cy Vance is on a fishing expedition that amounts to a malicious prosecution. Democrats have continued to harass President Trump through the Russia Witch Hunt, the Impeachment Hoax, and other lies and manipulations, and Democrats will continue to lose. All Americans including the President of the United States, have a right to be free from politically-motivated harassment.”
Vance disagreed in a statement Thursday, calling the court’s decision to clear the way for his case to proceed against the president a “tremendous victory” for the justice system.
“This is 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,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Supreme Court’s rulings “is not good news for President Trump.”
“A careful reading of the Supreme Court rulings related to the President’s financial records is not good news for President Trump,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“The Court has reaffirmed the Congress’s authority to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people, as it asks for further information from the Congress. Congress’s constitutional responsibility to uncover the truth continues, specifically related to the President’s Russia connection that he is hiding. The Congress will continue to conduct oversight For The People, upholding the separation of powers that is the genius of our Constitution. We will continue to press our case in the lower courts.”