Supreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress

Two Supreme Court decisions Thursday dealing with President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE's financial records reignited a fight over congressional oversight, with both Democrats and Republicans arguing the rulings were favorable to their respective positions.

In one of the two cases, the court upheld a subpoena that the Manhattan district attorney's office issued to Trump's accounting firm for the president's tax returns and financial records. Justices also rejected Trump's argument that sitting presidents have sweeping immunity from the criminal process.

In the other ruling, the court did not give Congress access to Trump's financial records that Democratic-led House committees subpoenaed from the president's accounting firm and banks, sending the matter back to lower courts.


Congressional Democrats cheered the ruling in the first case involving Manhattan prosecutors, arguing the Supreme Court found that Trump is not above the law.

“No matter how much he wishes it to be true, President Trump is not king," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Voters say Biden should make coronavirus vaccine a priority: poll New York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. "In a devastating blow to President Trump and his enablers in the Republican party, the Supreme Court today upheld a fundamental tenet of our democracy that no one is above the law."

Democrats also argued that the Supreme Court said in the second case that Congress's ability to conduct oversight is important.

“A careful reading of the Supreme Court rulings related to the President’s financial records is not good news for President Trump," Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-Calif.) said. “The Court has reaffirmed the Congress’s authority to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people, as it asks for further information from the Congress."

Democrats expressed disappointment that they were not granted access to Trump's financial records, but said they would pursue their subpoenas of his financial records in the lower courts.


"While I had hoped the Court’s decision today would fully endorse the subpoenas our Committee issued and provide us with immediate access to the documents we requested, I remain committed to pursuing this case through the lower courts in accordance with the Court’s ruling," said House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed Maxine Waters says Biden win is 'dawn of a new progressive America' MORE (D-Calif.), whose committee was one of two panels that issued the subpoenas to Trump's banks.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn Trump pardons Michael Flynn MORE (D-Calif.), whose committee also subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, said the Supreme Court's remand of the case to lower courts "will serve to delay the Committee’s investigation — and, given the risk of foreign influence over this President, such delay is dangerous — but we remain confident that we will ultimately prevail."

In a lawsuit that is separate from those at the center of the Supreme Court's rulings, the House Ways and Committee is seeking to get the courts to enforce the panel's requests and subpoenas to the Treasury Department and IRS for Trump's tax returns. That case is before a federal judge in Washington, D.C.

Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOvernight Health Care: Trump announces two moves aimed at lowering drug prices | Sturgis rally blamed for COVID-19 spread in Minnesota | Stanford faculty condemn Scott Atlas Trump announces two moves aimed at lowering drug prices IRS races to get remaining stimulus checks to low-income households MORE (D-Mass.) said he thinks he will prevail in his case after reading the Supreme Court's opinions.

"The Committee’s case meets the considerations now articulated by the Court and is further bolstered by a clear statutory right in the tax code," he said. "The law is on our side and the Administration has no basis whatsoever to continue to refuse to comply with my request."


Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers responded to the Supreme Court's rulings by characterizing Democrats' investigations as political.

"The Court recognized what Republicans have said all along: this was a partisan fishing expedition," said Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryMaxine Waters says Biden win is 'dawn of a new progressive America' McCarthy: 'I would think I already have the votes' to remain as House GOP leader Ex-RNC, Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy charged in covert lobbying scheme MORE (N.C.), the top Republican on the Financial Services Committee.

McHenry added that he hopes "the Democrat leadership will be more mindful of those legitimate privacy interests and more protective of our institutional interests as this process plays out pursuant to the Court’s order."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTop Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' Sunday shows preview: Biden transition, COVID-19 spike in spotlight MORE (R-Calif.) did not comment on the Supreme Court's rulings but argued that the Manhattan district attorney's office's efforts to get Trump's financial documents were politically motivated. The DA's office is led by a Democrat, Cyrus Vance Jr.

“It seems to me the New York district attorney and others that have tried for it — it seems much more political than anything else," McCarthy told reporters.

The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyOn The Money: Biden, Democratic leaders push for lame-duck coronavirus deal | Business groups shudder at Sanders as Labor secretary | Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year Top Democrat: Congress could pass retirement bill as soon as this year Momentum grows for bipartisan retirement bill in divided Congress MORE (Texas), argued that the court's rulings will hurt Democrats' efforts to obtain Trump's tax returns.

“The Supreme Court dealt a blow to Congressional Democrats' unprecedented grab to seize the Presidents tax returns for purely political reasons," he said. "There is no valid legislative purpose for their so-called 'oversight' actions, whose result would be to weaponize the tax code and put every American’s tax return at risk of political targeting by future Congresses.”