Politics

Trump rages at Supreme Court over tax records case, claims 'political prosecution'

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump was furious over the Supreme Court's rulings Thursday morning, after justices handed down a split decision over whether he can shield his tax records from investigators.
  • Trump also complained that he was the victim of "political prosecution," although he is not, in fact, being prosecuted in either case.
  • The decisions handed a win to the Manhattan district attorney but rejected parallel efforts by Democrats in the House of Representatives.
President Donald Trump listens to a question during a joint news conference with Finland's President Sauli Niinisto in East Room of the White House in Washington, October 2, 2019.
Leah Millis | Reuters

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump was furious over the Supreme Court's rulings Thursday morning, after justices handed down a split decision over whether he can shield his tax records from investigators.

Trump also complained that he was the victim of "political prosecution," although he is not, in fact, being prosecuted in either case. 

The decisions handed a win to the Manhattan district attorney but rejected parallel efforts by Democrats in the House of Representatives. 

Following the rulings, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow sought to reframe both cases as victories. "We are pleased that in the decisions issued today, the Supreme Court has temporarily blocked both Congress and New York prosecutors from obtaining the President's financial records," Sekulow said in a statement to reporters. "We will now proceed to raise additional Constitutional and legal issues in the lower courts."

Despite Sekulow's guarded optimism, it was clear from Trump's response that the president did not see the rulings as victories. 

Both cases were decided 7-2, with Chief Justice John Roberts authoring the court's opinion and joined in the majority by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented in both cases.

The decisions mark the first time that the nation's highest court has directly ruled on a matter involving Trump's personal dealings. Trump has been more secretive with his finances than any president in decades, refusing to release his tax records to the public even as he mounts a bid for reelection. 

The president unleashed a four-tweet thread ripping the court's decisions.

"We have a totally corrupt previous Administration, including a President and Vice President who spied on my campaign, AND GOT CAIGHT [sic] and nothing happens to them," Trump raged in a series of tweets.

"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. Won all against the Federal Government and the Democrats send everything to politically corrupt New York, which is falling apart with everyone leaving, to give it a second, third and fourth try," he said.

"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!" Trump tweeted.

The cases were decided on the final day of the Supreme Court's term, which began last October and was extended past its typical end-of-June conclusion as a result of precautions taken against the spreading coronavirus.

"In our judicial system, 'the public has a right to every man's evidence.' Since the earliest days of the Republic, 'every man' has included the President of the United States," Roberts wrote in the New York case. 

That case stemmed from an investigation being pursued by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. Vance issued a subpoena to Trump's longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, for a wide variety of Trump's personal and business records, including tax returns, dating back to 2011. 

The congressional cases involved subpoenas issued by Democratic-led committees of the House of Representatives, which sought financial records from Mazars as well as his banks, Capital One and Deutsche Bank. 

The House Oversight Committee sought the information in connection with investigations into claims made by the president's former lawyer Michael Cohen that Trump inflated and deflated his assets to suit his needs. 

The financial services and intelligence committees issued two separate subpoenas to Deutsche Bank seeking information on the president and members of his family, including his children Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump. A third subpoena, from the financial services committee, asked Capital One for a wide variety of information on 15 Trump businesses. 

The financial services committee is investigating potential foreign money laundering. Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the intelligence committee, has said his committee's investigation entails uncovering whether "any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates."