The court announced Friday that it is taking up three separate cases in which Trump’s lawyers have resisted investigatory moves by prosecutors and Congress, claiming that his special status as president should give him unique protection.
The first case involves Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s efforts to obtain Trump’s tax records from his accountants as a part of his grand jury investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s hush money scandal. The second concerns the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoena for Trump’s financial records as part of its own investigation. And the third case resulted from the House Intelligence Committee and the Financial Services Committee’s requests for Trump’s financial records from two banking institutions.
This last case seeks not only Trump’s records, but those of his three eldest children and the Trump Organization.
These cases will put to the test how much the Supreme Court is willing to bend to Trump’s personal interests. Though the conservative-dominated court has ruled in his favor before, previous cases haven’t considered the personal matters of this president and his unique efforts to avoid investigative scrutiny. While many fear the five conservative justices will instinctively side with a Republican president to protect him and only offer a rationalization, it’s genuinely unclear how the court will rule. Of the Republican-appointed justices currently serving, Chief Justice John Roberts has thus far seemed the most skeptical of the Trump administration.
It’s worth noting that in all three cases, the lower courts have ruled against Trump. And Supreme Court precedent has not generally been friendly to presidents seeking a shield from legal scrutiny. Both Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton lost big cases before the court trying to claim their office protected them from legal exposure most other citizens may face.
The arguments in the cases will be held in March, and a decision is likely to come in June, said Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern.
“In the past SCOTUS taking the case would not point to a Presidential win — as Nixon and Clinton learned,” said legal expert Ken White. “In this situation? I think it’s ominous.”
“Finally, it comes down to this, as we always knew it would. Will the Court hold? Every lower court to consider these issues ruled against Trump. The law is clear. Now we find out if SCOTUS still stands for the rule of law,” said MSNBC commentator and former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance.
IMAGE: President Trump and Neil Gorsuch smile as Trump nominated Gorsuch to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court at the White House. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque