Thursday, July 9, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He had a bit of a meltdown over his taxes.

The Supreme Court today, in a pair of 7-2 decisions, refused to grant Trump the "absolute immunity" from Congressional oversight and criminal investigation he'd demanded. The practical upshot is that, at the very least, New York state prosecutors and a grand jury will be able to subpoena Trump's taxes and financial records. 

Congress had also sought Trump's long-hidden taxes, but will have to make their case again in lower courts. Practically speaking, this means Trump will probably be able to stall long enough to prevent any pre-Election Day release of information about his financial empire's connections to Russian oligarchs and foreign banks—or, for that matter, how he used campaign funds to pay hush money to two women he had affairs with.

In other words, it was good news and bad news for Trump, which may be why his spokespeople spun it in different ways.

Trump's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow said he was "pleased that in the decisions issued today, the Supreme Court has temporarily blocked both Congress and New York prosecutors from obtaining the President's financial records." 

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany declared that the administration was "pleased by the 9 to 0 opinion to send this back to the lower court, though we’re not pleased by the absolute immunity component." (The Court's complete rejection of Trump's claim to "absolute immunity" from investigation is what the 9-0 portion of the opinion was about.)

Attorney General William Barr, on the other hand, said he was "disappointed" by the ruling.

And this was how Trump himself responded, on Twitter:

PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT! “We know what took place. We have already seen criminality. What is happening? Biggest political scandal of our time.” @MariaBartiromo You are 100% correct, Maria, it is a disgrace that nothing happens. Obama and Biden spied on my campaign, AND GOT CAUGHT...BUT NOTHING! PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT! 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! Courts in the past have given “broad deference”. BUT NOT ME! We have a totally corrupt previous Administration, including a President and Vice President who spied on my campaign, AND GOT CAUGHT...and nothing happens to them. This crime was taking place even before my election, everyone knows it, and yet all are frozen stiff with fear.......Won all against the Federal Government and the Democrats send everything to politically corrupt New York, which is falling apart with everyone leaving, to give it a second, third and fourth try. Now the Supreme Court gives a delay ruling that they would never have given.......for another President. This is about PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT. We catch the other side SPYING on my campaign, the biggest political crime and scandal in U.S. history, and NOTHING HAPPENS. But despite this, I have done more than any President in history in first 3 1/2 years! POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!

Later, Trump appeared on Sean Hannity's TV show and complained bitterly that he was being investigated by New York state law enforcement even though the federal government had supplied New York City with hospital equipment during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Why is this a problem?

  • Presidents are not above the law.
  • Nobody expects Trump to be happy about losing his criminal investigation shield, but that's quite a tantrum even by his standards.
  • The presidency is not a protection racket.