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Court rulings keep Trump’s financial records private for now

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court issued a mixed verdict Thursday on demands for President Donald Trump’s financial records that will keep his tax returns, banking and other documents out of the public eye for the time being.

The court rejected broad arguments by Trump’s lawyers and the Justice Department that the president is immune from investigation while he holds office or that a prosecutor must show a greater need than normal to obtain the records.

By 7-2 votes, the justices upheld the Manhattan district attorney’s demand for Trump’s tax returns, but kept a hold on Trump’s financial records that Congress has been seeking for more than a year.

Trump, the only president in modern times who has refused to make his tax returns public, didn’t immediately regard the outcome as a victory even though it is likely to prevent Trump’s opponents in Congress from obtaining potentially embarrassing personal and business records ahead of Election Day.

The documents have the potential to reveal details on everything from possible misdeeds to the true nature of the president’s vaunted wealth – not to mention uncomfortable disclosures about how he’s spent his money and how much he’s given to charity.

“This is all a political prosecution. I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!” Trump lashed out on Twitter.

The rejection of Trump’s claims of presidential immunity marked the latest instance where Trump’s broad assertion of executive power has been rejected.

Trump’s two high court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined the majority in both cases along with Chief Justice John Roberts and the four liberal justices. Roberts wrote both opinions.

“Congressional subpoenas for information from the President, however, implicate special concerns regarding the separation of powers. The courts below did not take adequate account of those concerns,” Roberts wrote in the congressional case.

The ruling returns the case to lower courts, with no clear prospect for when it might ultimately be resolved.

The tax returns case also is headed back to a lower court, but Trump’s major arguments have now been rejected. Because the grand jury process is confidential, Trump’s taxes normally would not be made public.

“This case is almost certain to be portrayed as a case about the current President and the current political situation, but the case has a much deeper significance,” Alito wrote. “While the decision will of course have a direct effect on President Trump, what the Court holds today will also affect all future Presidents—which is to say, it will affect the Presidency, and that is a matter of great and lasting importance to the Nation.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said his investigation, on hold while the court fight played out, will now resume.

“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,” Vance said.

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