The U.S. Supreme Court has handed President Donald Trump a major defeat in his legal battle to keep his financial records secret. The court ruled that the Manhattan District attorney can subpoena Trump’s business and tax records, but it also blocked the president’s past financial records from congressional subpoena for now, sending that case back to the lower courts.
“Executive privilege is not in the constitution. We have lots of reasons to know that Donald Trump has things to hide.” -David Cay Johnston, journalist
Listen: Although the ruling could lead to legal repercussions for Trump in the future, it also means we probably will not see his tax records before the November election.
David Cay Johnston is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist specializing in economics and tax issues and has been reporting extensively about Trump’s finances for years. Johnston called the decision “a legal loss for Trump, a political win for Trump.”
“It is 100 percent unsurprising that the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that the president is not above the law and must comply with the subpoenas. The disappointing part is that they sent it back to the Federal District Court in Manhattan for further litigation,” he says.
Although the court ruled that the president must turn over his tax records to New York prosecutors, Johnston says he does not think those records will be made public until after the November election. However, he says he is confident that Trump will be indicted on charges of tax fraud.
“The Manhattan prosecutors already have Trump’s federal tax information, what they don’t have are business, banking records and accounting records,” Johnston says. “They will get them, if tax returns deviate from accounting records, Trump will be indicted.”
He adds that the president’s base of supporters would not be swayed by his tax returns, even if they were released before the November election.
He says Trump’s biggest group of supporters are “the people who have real legitimate grievances, and it’s the 90% of Americans whose income today is the same as it was in the 1960s.”
Johnston explains that while there is no legal requirement for the president to make his tax returns public, the president was acting as though he was above the law. “Executive privilege is not in the constitution,” Johnston says. “We have lots of reasons to know that Donald Trump has things to hide.”
This article was written by Detroit Today student producer Ali Audet.