Trump Says The Supreme Court Rulings On His Tax Records Are 'Not Fair'
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
President Trump had some strong reactions to these Supreme Court rulings today, and for that part of the story, I want to bring in NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Hey, Tam.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hi.
KELLY: I'm sure you were listening in there as Congresswoman Waters vowed she's going to keep going after these records even if President Trump loses in November. That will presumably not come as welcome news to this White House.
KEITH: Right. Absolutely not, but there's another question - what if he wins? Will Congress continue these investigations? Could it become a second impeachment investigation? The other thing to point out about what the Congresswoman said is that at this point we have seen no evidence of money laundering, as she alleges. The president has very complicated business holdings. There's not a lot of transparency, the lack of tax returns. There are surely lots of questions, but we don't know about money laundering.
KELLY: Waters was focused understandably because we were asking her about the decision that is focused on congressional oversight of the president. I want to ask you about the other decision related to this that the court handed down today. This was the one in response to New York DA Cyrus Vance.
KEITH: Yeah. So prosecutors were seeking financial documents from an accounting firm and a bank related to President Trump's business dealings from before when he was president. And we don't really know what the investigation is about because it's with a grand jury, and those proceedings are secret. But the president's team had argued that he should have what's known as absolute immunity, the idea that the president's job is so important he shouldn't have to be bothered with criminal investigations. The court majority, which included Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, the president's appointees, really blew up the idea of that immunity. And previous courts have done the same for Nixon and Clinton.
Justice Roberts wrote, no citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding. But as you've discussed, the Supreme Court also sent it back to the lower courts where President Trump could make a different argument about why the documents should not be turned over. And if the grand jury were to get these documents, they would remain secret unless there's a prosecution at some point. So it's not likely the American public will be seeing anything anytime soon.
KELLY: What has the president had to say today about this ruling?
KEITH: Oh, he's had a lot to say about this. There were a number of tweets both before and after the decision came down with lots of all-caps and exclamation points, enough that would lead you to believe that he was pretty upset about this. One tweet sums it up pretty well. He said courts in the past have given broad deference but not to me, exclamation point. He complained repeatedly that he had been treated poorly. And then a few hours later, he talked about it at the White House.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, the rulings were basically starting all over again sending everything back down to the lower courts and to start all over again. And so from a certain point, I'm satisfied. From another point, I'm not satisfied because frankly this is a political witch hunt, the likes of which nobody's ever seen before. It's a pure witch hunt. It's a hoax.
KEITH: And he is there tying the Vance investigation to the Mueller probe and every other investigation that has gone on through the course of his presidency. The president's personal attorney Jay Sekulow put out a statement. He said that he was pleased that the court had temporarily blocked the release of the records and said, quote, "we will now proceed to raise additional constitutional and legal issues at the lower courts."
KELLY: So what does this pair of rulings today mean politically, both for President Trump and also for candidate Trump who's seeking reelection?
KEITH: Well, candidate Trump is unlikely to have to worry about his tax returns being made public before the election on November 3. Now, there is a question as to why he wouldn't just release his tax returns as every president since Nixon has done. And White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeated a line we've heard many times, that 3 1/2 years into the presidency, Trump's tax returns are still under audit, and he won't release them until that is over. Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted pointing out that he has released 21 years of his tax returns, though it's not clear how big an issue this will be in the election coming up because, well, President Trump didn't release his tax returns before the last election either.
KELLY: NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Thank you, Tam.
KEITH: You're welcome.
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