Breaking news — on the last day of the session, the Supreme Court handed down mixed decisions on two of Donald Trump’s tax returns cases! First the good news: the first decision explicitly rejected the idea that Trump has “absolute immunity” from being subpoenaed by a grand jury in New York, which is a clear win for the rule of law (how messed up is it that we’re celebrating what should be such an easy principle to uphold?). The bad news is that the decision doesn’t necessarily mean that Trump must immediately turn over his taxes. That means that the New York case will be wrapped up in the courts for months to come.
The second case dealt with whether Congress has the authority to subpoena Trump’s taxes. This should have been an easy, decisive win for Congressional investigators, yet the court decided to send the case back to the lower courts, effectively deciding they didn’t want to deal with the issue.
The tl;dr version: New York prosecutors, Congress, and voters won’t see Trump’s taxes before the November election — which means Trump can continue hiding his taxes, despite serious concerns about his financial dealings with foreign governments.
In the last few weeks, Trump publicly signaled that he wants a Supreme Court vacancy in the coming months as a way to boost his sagging approval ratings after months of (gestures around the room) all of this. A vacancy will have major implications for the future of the judiciary, further entrenching the right-wing politicization of the federal bench, and also giving the GOP a fresh opportunity to rally around Trump ahead of the election.
Luckily, we’ve got a plan to take on Trump, the Supreme Court, and the Senate in November. Keep reading if you’d like to know more about the Trump tax return decision, or if you’re already on top of the latest news, jump down to ‘what you can do’.
How we got here
The cases involving Trump’s taxes and financial documents are Trump v. Mazarsand Trump v. Vance, and they center on House Congressional subpoenas as well as a subpoena seeking the same documents for a grand jury investigation by the District Attorney in Manhattan. Each of these cases is looking at whether there are links or coordination between the Russian government or related foreign actors and individuals associated with Trump’s campaign, transition, administration, or business interests.
Trump’s lawyers challenged orders by lower courts to turn over his financial records to committees in the House, as well as to local prosecutors in Manhattan investigating hush-money payments. Trump has repeatedly refused to turn over his tax returns — meaning the American people don’t know who he does business with and who he owes money to, including whether or not he is in debt to foreign governments.
Despite the fact that six different federal courts have heard these cases, and all six have ruled against Trump, the GOP and Trump are doing everything they can ahead of the election to shield his personal finances from public view. This ruling delays the ability of congressional and state investigators to root out corruption in the executive branch.
What you can do
Yes, today’s decisions could have been worse. But that doesn’t mean the Supreme Court is off the hook. Senate Republicans moved quickly to put right-wing conservatives like Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch on the bench, and now they’re aiming for a third to solidify their conservative majority — not to mention Mitch McConnell has been busy packing the lower courts with hundreds of young, conservative, and oftentimes unqualified judges who’ll serve the rest of their lives on the bench. Now more than ever, it’s clear that we need to reform the courts.
But we can’t do any of that without taking back the Senate. The GOP’s impact on the makeup of the federal courts and the Supreme Court is yet another reason we need to take back the Senate this year. That’s why we launched the Payback Project a few months ago — but we need your help. If you can, click here to support the Payback Project, take back the Senate, fix the courts, and fund all our work this year.
In the last few weeks, we’ve gotten some decent Supreme Court rulings, but that doesn’t negate the fact that Trump, the GOP, and Mitch McConnell have worked hard to make the courts into a right-wing extension of their agenda. With your help, we’re going to hold our elected officials accountable and we’ll be getting payback for all of the ways that Trump and the GOP have subverted our democracy in an effort to serve their own interests. In November, we’re going to take back the Senate and fix the Supreme Court — together.
P.S.: In another pretty shocking yet incredible decision, the Supreme Court also ruled today that huge portions of Oklahoma, including Tulsa, are still technically tribal land. The Court ruled that the government must abide by the promises it made in treaties with indigenous tribes dating back hundreds of years. This case could have significant implications for tribal sovereignty going forward, and we’ll be keeping an eye on it.