The Supreme Court in a split decision on Thursday granted New York state prosecutors access to President Trump’s tax returns, even as it shielded a trove of his financial records from Congress.
The justices upheld a Manhattan district attorney subpoena for eight years of Trump’s financial documents, including his personal and corporate tax returns. But they declined to grant Congress access to records subpoenaed by a trio of Democratic-led House committees.
Both decisions were handed down in 7-2 rulings.
The ruling in the New York case makes it more likely that Trump’s tax returns are eventually made public, though it’s unclear if they would be disclosed before the November general election. More fundamentally, the decision narrows the immunity from criminal investigations that a sitting president enjoys.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision siding with New York prosecutors, which was joined by the court’s liberal wing, as well as Trump’s two nominees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
In the second case, the court’s decision not to enforce the congressional subpoenas means that Congress, for now, will not have access to materials the committees said they needed in order to assess the adequacy of current laws covering everything from ethics to money laundering, and to probe the susceptibility of U.S. elections to foreign interference.
Trump’s tax returns and financial records have been closely watched since his 2016 presidential campaign. He is the first president in decades to refuse to make any of his tax returns public, noting that he is under audit, though the IRS has said that does not prevent Trump from voluntary disclosure.
The New York case arose after Cyrus Vance Jr., the Democratic district attorney for Manhattan, obtained a grand jury subpoena for Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA.
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