Supreme Court Rejects Trump’s ‘Absolute Immunity’ Claims

United States Supreme Court Building
En Español

On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court issued much-anticipated decisions in two cases on subpoenas for President Donald Trump’s tightly guarded financial records, giving the president the benefit of further delay but, importantly, rejecting his broad claims that he had absolute immunity from such investigations.

In Trump v. Vance, the Court ruled 7–2 that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance did have the authority to subpoena financial records, including tax returns, from Trump’s private accounting firm, in New York’s grand jury investigation of Trump campaign-finance violations. While this means the firm, Mazars USA, can release the records to prosecutors, Trump may have the opportunity to delay with further litigation (if he has additional defenses that don’t rest on executive power).

“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,” said Vance in a statement.

The other case, Trump v. Mazars, involved subpoenas for the financial records from the House Oversight and Reform Committee. In another 7–2 ruling, the Court sent the case back to lower courts for more consideration of separation-of-powers issues involved, also delaying any potential release of records.

“The Supreme Court correctly rejected Donald Trump’s ahistorical and anti-constitutional argument that the presidency gives him absolute immunity from accountability,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “No president is above the law, but these decisions unfortunately validate the president’s delay tactics. Sooner or later the public will get the full story of President Trump’s financial dealings, but we once again have to ask why he has gone to such extreme lengths to conceal it.” 

The president’s attempts to block Mazars from releasing the records are in keeping with his multiple years of thwarting legislative oversight and ducking accountability — and getting federal agencies to assist in those efforts. In the fall of 2019, an official at the Internal Revenue Service filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that a Treasury Department political appointee may have attempted to interfere with the agency’s annual audits of Trump or Vice President Mike Pence. That complaint has resulted in a Senate investigation into the allegations. 

American Oversight has also been investigating the handling of those audits, and has filed a suite of Freedom of Information Act requests with the IRS and the Treasury for related communications and directives. These requests aim to shine a light on whether political appointees or the White House have put political pressure on career IRS officials or interfered with the audits.

While voters may not be able to see Trump’s financial records before the November presidential election, the Supreme Court’s ruling is an important affirmation of the fact that the president is not above the law.

 

La Corte Suprema Rechaza los Reclamaciones de Trump de ‘Inmunidad Absoluta’

El jueves por la mañana, la Corte Suprema emitió decisiones muy anticipadas en dos casos sobre citaciones para las declaraciones de impuestos del Presidente Donald Trump, dándole al presidente el beneficio de una mayor demora pero, significativamente, rechazando sus amplias afirmaciones de que tenía inmunidad absoluta contra tales investigaciones.

En Trump v. Vance, la Corte Suprema falló 7-2 qué fiscal de distrito de Manhattan, Cyrus Vance, tenía la autoridad para citar registros financieros, incluidas declaraciones de impuestos, de la firma de contadores privados de Trump, en la investigación del gran jurado de Nueva York sobre las violaciones de financiamiento de campañas de Trump. Mientras esta significa que la firma, Mazars USA, puede soltar los registros a fiscales, Trump puede tener la oportunidad a demorar con litigio adicional (si tiene defensas adicionales que no usan el poder ejecutivo).

“Nuestra investigación, que se demoró durante casi un año por esta demanda, se reanudará, guiada como siempre por la solemne obligación del gran jurado de cumplir con la ley y los hechos, donde sea que conduzcan,” dijo Vance en una declaración.

En el otro caso, Trump v. Mazars, involucró citaciones para los registros financieros del Comité de Supervisión y Reforma de la Cámara. En otro fallo de 7-2, la Corte envió el caso de vuelta a los tribunales inferiores para consideración de los problemas de separación de poderes involucrados, lo que también retrasó cualquier posible divulgación de registros.f

“La Corte Suprema correctamente rehusó el argumento ahistórico y anti-constitucional de Donald Trump que la presidencia confiere inmunidad absoluta de responsabilidad,” dijo Austin Evers, director ejecutivo de American Oversight. “Ningún presidente está por encima de la ley, pero desafortunadamente, la decisión de hoy tiene un efecto secundario validando las tácticas para dilatar del presidente. Tarde o temprano, el público obtendrá la historia completa sobre las finanzas del Presidente Trump, pero una vez más tenemos que preguntar porque se ha esforzado tanto para ocultarlo.”

Los esfuerzos del presidente para impedir que Mazars publique los registros son parte de un patrón de frustrar la supervisión legislativa y eludir la responsabilidad, y lograr que las agencias federales ayuden en esos esfuerzos. En el otoño de 2019, un funcionario del IRS presentó una queja revelando que una persona designada en el Departamento de Tesorería había tratado de interferir con las auditorías anuales del IRS de Trump y el Vicepresidente Mike Pence. La queja ha resultado en una investigación del Senado sobre las alegaciones.   

American Oversight ha presentado una colección de solicitudes de la Ley de Libertad de Información (o FOIA, por su siglos en inglés) con el IRS y el Departamento del Tesoro buscando comunicaciones y directivas sobre la auditoría del IRS del Presidente y Vicepresidente. Estas solicitudes tienen como objetivo revelar la esencia de la queja denunciando el acto, y posible interferencia política sobre la importante supervisión del gobierno. 

Mientras los votantes no puedan ver las declaraciones de impuestos de Trump antes de las elecciones presidenciales de noviembre, el fallo de la Corte Suprema es una afirmación importante del hecho de que el presidente no está por encima de la ley.

Part of Investigation:

Related Blog Posts

July 29, 2020

New Coronavirus Relief Bill Includes Nearly $2 Billion for Trump-Requested FBI Headquarters Project

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, General Services Administration, Office of Management and Budget
July 14, 2020

Investigations Update: Militarization of Police, Covid-19 in Migrant Detention Centers, and Barr’s Political Interference

Central Intelligence Agency, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Defense Logistics Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, General Services Administration, Office of Legal Counsel, Palm Beach County - Florida, Transportation Security Administration
July 10, 2020

News Roundup: Sidelining Safety and Science

Chicago Mayor's Office, Cook County - Illinois, Florida House of Representatives
July 1, 2020

American Oversight Sues Treasury for Records Related to Coronavirus Stimulus

Department of the Treasury
June 18, 2020

New Lawsuit Seeks Records of Jared Kushner’s Failed Coronavirus Supply Chain Task Force

Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation
May 1, 2020

News Roundup: Protecting the Right to Vote During a Pandemic

Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, Arizona Department of Homeland Security, Arizona-Mexico Commission, Central Intelligence Agency, Cobb County - Georgia, Customs and Border Protection, DeKalb County - Georgia, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury, District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, Essex County - New Jersey, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Florida Department of State, Florida Office of the Governor, Food and Drug Administration, Fulton County - Georgia, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Indiana Secretary of State, Iowa Secretary of State, Kentucky Secretary of State, Kentucky State Board of Elections, Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, New Orleans, Office of Information Policy, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Richmond County - Georgia, Texas Attorney General, Texas Secretary of State, Wisconsin Elections Commission, Yuma County - Arizona
April 24, 2020

News Roundup: Miracle Drugs and Trump’s Alternate Reality

Albany-Dougherty County - Georgia, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Chatham County - Georgia, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Cobb County - Georgia, Cook County - Illinois, Customs and Border Protection, DeKalb County - Georgia, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Department of Corrections, Food and Drug Administration, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Fulton County - Georgia, General Services Administration, Georgia Department of Community Health, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, King County - Washington, Macon-Bibb County - Georgia, Muscogee County - Georgia, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Richmond County - Georgia, Texas Department of Health and Human Services, Veterans Health Administration
April 21, 2020

The Administration’s Attempts to Stonewall Investigations of Trump FBI Headquarters Interference Stumble in Court

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, General Services Administration, Office of Management and Budget
April 10, 2020

News Roundup: Corruption and Coronavirus

Agency for International Development, Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of the Treasury, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Indian Health Service, Justice Management Division, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Nevada Department of the Administration, Office of Information Policy, Office of Legal Counsel, Social Security Administration, U.S. Department of the Navy, United States Secret Service
April 6, 2020

Administration-Wide Indifference Continues on How to Ethically Handle Spending Taxpayer Money at Trump Properties

Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Legal Counsel, Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of the Navy, United States Secret Service
March 27, 2020

News Roundup: Transparency and Oversight Are More Important Than Ever

Bartow County - Georgia, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Cobb County - Georgia, Customs and Border Protection, DeKalb County - Georgia, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Drug Enforcement Administration, Executive Office for Immigration Review, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Election Commission, Florida Department of State, Florida Office of the Attorney General, Florida Office of the Governor, Fulton County - Georgia, General Services Administration, Georgia Office of the Governor, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, National Security Division, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Tennessee Valley Authority, Texas Attorney General, Texas Office of the Governor, Texas Secretary of State, U.S. Marshals Service
March 6, 2020

News Roundup: Rising Coronavirus Fears and Sinking Public Trust

Administration for Children and Families, Agency for International Development, Briscoe County - Texas, Bureau of Land Management, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Cobb County - Georgia, Criminal Division, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Reserve, Food and Drug Administration, Freestone County - Texas, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Department of Driver Services, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Hall County - Texas, Hill County - Texas, Hood County - Texas, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Jones County - Texas, Kendall County - Texas, King County - Washington, Lavaca County - Texas, Leon County - Texas, Limestone County - Texas, Loving County - Texas, Morris County - Texas, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Office of Information Policy, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Scurry County - Texas, Starr County - Texas, Swisher County - Texas, Texas Secretary of State, Veterans Health Administration, Victoria County - Texas, Washington State Department of Health
February 21, 2020

News Roundup: The Post-Impeachment Purge and the Knock of Authoritarianism

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Fish and Wildlife Service, Food and Drug Administration, Office of Management and Budget, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, United States Secret Service
February 14, 2020

News Roundup: Trump Has Learned His ‘Lesson’

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Central Intelligence Agency, Cobb County - Georgia, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, DeKalb County - Georgia, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Federal Reserve, Florida House of Representatives, Florida Senate, Fulton County - Georgia, Georgia Secretary of State, Gwinnett County - Georgia, Kentucky Office of the Governor, Office of Information Policy, U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Wisconsin Senate, Wisconsin State Assembly
December 27, 2019

American Oversight’s 2019 in Review: Nine Important Stories We Uncovered

December 20, 2019

News Roundup: Beyond Impeachment — The Investigations Continue

Administration for Children and Families, Congress, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Government Accountability Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Management and Budget
December 17, 2019

American Oversight Sues for U.S. Embassy Communications About Trump Properties

Department of State
November 22, 2019

News Roundup: Fiona Hill’s Warnings, Nikki Haley’s Emails, and Matt Bevin’s Stay at Trump’s Hotel

Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Kentucky Office of the Governor
May 3, 2019

News Roundup: Above the Law

Congress, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, General Services Administration, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
May 3, 2019

New Evidence of Emoluments Violations Prompts American Oversight Lawsuit

Department of Justice, Department of State
April 30, 2019

American Oversight Sues HUD for Communications Related to Sale of Trump-Tied Housing Complex

Department of Housing and Urban Development
April 17, 2019

Why Congress — and the American People — Deserve to See Trump’s Tax Returns

Congress, Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, White House
April 12, 2019

News Roundup: DeVos, Mnuchin, Barr Testify in Congress

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Congress, Council on Environmental Quality, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Environmental Protection Agency
March 25, 2019

The Corruption Continues: Mueller Has Finished His Work. American Oversight Has Not.

March 13, 2019

Two Years of American Oversight

March 8, 2019

News Roundup: Lawsuits Against Departments of Defense, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services

March 4, 2019

FBI Headquarters Investigation: Agencies Refusing to Search for Records of Trump Interference to Protect Hotel

February 5, 2019

Lawsuit: Why Did Government-Run Site Attached to Trump Hotel Stay Open During the Shutdown?

General Services Administration, National Park Service, Office of Management and Budget
January 3, 2019

Government Site Attached to Trump Hotel Stays Open Despite Shutdown and We Want to Know Why

November 19, 2018

Ivanka Trump Email Investigation Sparked by American Oversight FOIAs

Department of Commerce, Department of Education, Department of Labor, Department of the Treasury, Small Business Administration
November 8, 2018

American Oversight Sues State Department for Trump Organization, Kushner Companies Records

Department of State
October 23, 2018

New Lawsuit Seeks Details of White House, Trump Organization Involvement in FBI Headquarters Decision

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, General Services Administration, Office of Management and Budget
May 3, 2018

Court Rules in Favor of American Oversight in Trump Hotel Lawsuit

General Services Administration
December 17, 2017

Trump Transition GSA Emails and Memorandum of Understanding

General Services Administration
December 11, 2017

State Department Emails Show How Embassy Websites Promoted Mar-a-Lago

Department of State
November 2, 2017

FOIA In Action: Helping Journalists Expose Questionable Behavior By Trump’s Appointees

Department of Education, Department of Labor, Small Business Administration
October 24, 2017

Texts Show SBA Staff Tried to “Crop the Opulence” from Trump Hotel Event

Small Business Administration
August 4, 2017

Ethics 101: Twitter Ads Follow President Trump to Bedminster, NJ

July 24, 2017

American Oversight Launches “Defund Trump” Investigation

Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Council on Environmental Quality, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
June 28, 2017

Ethics Watchdog Sues GSA for Trump International Hotel Lease Records

General Services Administration
May 3, 2017

Ethics Watchdog Calls for Investigation into Pattern of Promoting Trump Family Ventures on Government Websites

Department of State
April 25, 2017

American Oversight Files IG Complaint over State Department Promotion of Mar-A-Lago

Department of State
March 29, 2017

Call for GSA Inspector General to Review Trump Hotel Lease Decision

General Services Administration