If you’re the president of the United States, you don’t stand above the law. But if you’re a member of Congress seeking the president’s personal records in order to exercise oversight of the executive branch, you better not overreach.
That, essentially, is how the Supreme Court ruled in a pair of opinions released Thursday morning. Both cases, Trump v. Vance and Trump v. Mazars, involved efforts to gain access to President Donald Trump’s tax returns, bank documents and bookkeeping records. Trump’s lawyers and the Justice Department contended that the president didn’t have to comply with the subpoenas — and could block his financial advisers from complying — because the requests were overly intrusive and undermined the sweeping immunity from criminal investigations any president should enjoy while in office.
The Court’s 7-2 ruling in Trump v. Vance is a seminal and landmark rebuke of this imperial view of executive authority.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is conducting a probe into the Trump Organization’s efforts to mask hush money paid to two women who said they had sexual encounters with Trump. The D.A. wants to explore whether, as part of those maneuvers, Trump’s team falsified business records. Trump’s lawyers argued that prosecutors like Vance should have to meet a heightened standard when seeking any president’s personal papers. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, disagreed, citing previous rulings involving former presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. [Continue reading…]