Washington, Jul 9 (efe-epa).- The United States Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Donald Trump’s bid to block a New York prosecutor from obtaining his financial records, but it ruled that the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives cannot yet access those documents.
The ruling in the New York case is a legal setback for Trump, who has refused to follow in his predecessors’ footsteps and release his tax returns.
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., a Democrat, issued grand jury subpoenas to Trump’s accountants and bankers seeking eight years of business and personal tax returns.
He sought those records in connection with a probe of potential criminal violations by the president and the Trump Organization in accounting for hush-money payments to a former pornographic film actress.
Trump and The Trump Organization reimbursed a former lawyer to the president, Michael Cohen, for payments made in the lead-up to the 2016 election to Stormy Daniels, who had said she had an affair with the now-US president.
The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Vance in that decision, with two justices nominated by Trump – Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – siding with the majority.
Trump’s lawyers had argued that sitting presidents are immune from prosecution.
But Chief Justice John Roberts said in the majority opinion that “we cannot conclude that absolute immunity is necessary or appropriate under Article II or the Supremacy Clause” of the US Constitution.
Vance hailed the decision.
“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.” he said. “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.”
Nevertheless, it is still unclear how the financial records will be delivered and whether that will happen prior the November presidential election.
A Trump attorney, meanwhile, expressed optimism about the rulings.
“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 tax records,” Jay Sekulow said on Twitter. “We will now proceed to raise additional constitutional and legal issues in the lower courts.”
In the other ruling, also handed down Thursday, the high court allowed Trump to at least delay handover of his tax returns to three House committees. Trump had sued his accounting firm, Mazars USA, to block it from releasing those financial records, but lower courts had ruled against him.
One of those committees, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, had issued a subpoena for those records as part of its investigation into the hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and into suspected manipulation of descriptions of Trump’s assets on financial statements.
The Supreme Court also ruled 7-2 in that case, Trump v. Mazars USA, with Roberts writing that the lower courts need to reconsider separation of powers concerns.
Trump on Thursday slammed the rulings.
“The Supreme Court sends case back to Lower Court, arguments to continue. 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!” he wrote on Twitter. EFE-EPA