Does Trump Have To Release His Taxes Now?

Yes, but probably not before the election this November.

Yesterday the Supreme Court by a 7-2 vote each in two separate cases ruled that the president had to turn over his tax returns and other financial records. But that doesn’t mean they’re coming out anytime soon.

The first case, Trump v. Vance, was brought by NY District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who is investigating whether the president committed fraud when he paid off adult film star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election.

The second, Trump v. Mazars USA, came about when the Democratic Party gained control of the House of Representatives after the 2018 midterms. A few months after securing the majority, several House committees subpoenaed the president’s accounting firm for the returns during its investigations into foreign influences on the president and his associates.

The Supreme Court in the Trump v. Vance case ruled that a grand jury could view the returns as part of its criminal inquiry. However, grand juries are notorious for being as secretive as possible, and the odds of them leaking there are not high.

Trump v. Mazars was the case that, if the court had said so, would’ve provided the public with instant access to the returns. Unfortunately for us, they punted.

While the court’s ruling said that the president did not enjoy absolute immunity from the subpoenas, the lower court had failed to properly take into account separation of powers issues, so the case had to be sent back to the lower court for review. Which almost certainly means we won’t see the returns before the election unless they’re leaked somehow.

While I can understand the logic of the Court’s decision to a certain point (Congress does not have the right to seek unlimited personal papers from the president, and the House’s argument was too vague in this regard), it’s tough not to feel disappointed by the decisions. Imagine if the Supreme Court had sent US v. Nixon back to a lower court for review, or if they said the Pentagon Papers couldn’t be published for another year or two.

Now, there is nothing preventing a President Joe Biden from directing the Internal Revenue Service to release the returns if he wins. But, despite the positive polling in Biden’s direction this summer, this remains a big if. If Biden doesn’t win, we will have to wait for Trump v. Mazars to make its way through the lower courts again – and, if the Democrats hold onto the House, they may have to subpoena the records again as the subpoenas in Trump v. Mazars expire at the end of this current Congress.

This Week’s WTF Moment in Congress

According to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, everything in America is back to normal again, so schools should be, too (never mind that in states that have drastically re-opened, they are experiencing surging coronavirus cases).

Reading List

Elissa Slotkin Is Sounding the Alarm. Will Democrats Listen? (Politico)

Rep. Slotkin is one of many House Democrats who helped flip the chamber in 2018. Here, she delivers a stark warning to the party to not ignore Trump voters in purple districts.

Tucker Carlson’s top writer resigns after secretly posting racist and sexist remarks in online forum (CNN)

I mean, is this really that surprising?

Trump expected to commute Roger Stone sentence, days before prison term set to begin (Fox News)

Insert eyeroll here.

 

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