Supreme Court grants N.Y. access to Trump taxes, blocks House

Register now

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared a New York grand jury to get President Donald Trump's financial records while blocking for now House subpoenas that might have led to their public release before the election.

The pair of 7-2 rulings likely spare Trump from the scrutiny that would have accompanied disclosure of tax returns and other information he has long refused to release. At the same time, they leave room for lawmakers and state prosecutors to gain access to a president's private records with a strong enough showing.

The cases were perhaps the most far-reaching of Trump's presidency, testing his claim to broad protections from congressional and state criminal investigations while in the White House. The clashes forced Chief Justice John Roberts's court to navigate politically polarizing and constitutionally weighty issues months before the presidential election.

Trump weighed in on Twitter about the cases, saying they were "political prosecutions."

"The Supreme Court sends case back to Lower Court, arguments to continue," he said. "Now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!"

In the House case, the court returned the fight to two federal appeals courts, saying they didn't give close enough scrutiny to Trump's contentions that the document demands would be too intrusive.

"Burdens imposed by a congressional subpoena should be carefully scrutinized, for they stem from a rival political branch that has an ongoing relationship with the President and incentives to use subpoenas for institutional advantage," Roberts wrote for the court.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented, saying they would have gone further and rejected the House subpoenas altogether.

In the grand jury case, the court rejected Trump's call to give presidents complete immunity from criminal investigation while in office.

"The president is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need," Roberts wrote for the court. Thomas and Alito dissented in that case as well.

Trump's two appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were in the majority in both cases.

The subpoenas seek years of Trump's personal financial records, as well as those of the Trump Organization and his other businesses. They are directed to Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, and his banks, Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp. The accountants and banks aren't contesting the subpoenas and have said they will comply with their legal obligations.

"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," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement.

Bloomberg News
Disputes and judgments Donald Trump SCOTUS