The headlines this week will be declaring both loudly and proudly that the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled against President Donald Trump and his ongoing efforts to not release his tax returns. It sounds damning, it will sell papers and generate clicks, and it will undoubtedly be hailed as a victory over a president allegedly mired in corruption. There’s only one problem with this summation: It’s not quite accurate.
Two cases were before SCOTUS – one from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, and the other brought by Congress – both intent on examining the president’s financial records. Despite the inevitable crowing from those who have demanded these documents since before Trump was even elected, it’s really not the victory they sought. The rulings in both cases send the process of subpoena back to the lower courts, simply stating that the president can’t use a form of presidential immunity to avoid compliance. The rulings do not state that he actually has to hand over his papers, however.
What begins now is the process of President Trump defending himself without a blanket immunity, and there are, of course, many options open to him. What seems most likely is that if the lower courts persist, he will claim that the cases are not an attempt to unearth truth, but rather a political effort to do him personal damage in the November election. It’s a valid argument, but whether it is compelling enough for the courts remains to be seen.
As Liberty Nation’s Washington Political Columnist Tim Donner suggest:
“Whether the high court decision is based on a proper foundation or not, this will now empower yet another witch hunt on Trump with the election approaching. The problem for the president’s enemies is that these kind of assaults on Trump, most notably the Access Hollywood tape released as the October surprise of 2016, have never succeeded in toppling him.”
And this brings us to the crux of the matter. The Vance case is looking into whether Trump paid money to women who allege they had affairs with him; that’s not illegal, but he has certainly denied doing so. The congressional case is hoping to unearth dirt that shows he has connections with Russia. Can you spot the problems? This is almost certainly a direct attack on the president and in no way about crime or justice.
Those who support the president do not consider him a moral bastion – they never did. Does Trump have a reputation as a man who chases women? Yes, but has that hurt his reputation with his base? And as to the question of the Russia connection, this is old hat that has been thoroughly debunked by even the FBI who were arguably trying to bring down his presidency. It is a remnant of a failed plot that the public rightly views with disdain.
The left presumes this will be the sword of Damocles hanging over the president’s head as the election approaches. Instead, it is the same rusty butter knife that was wielded in 2016, and it didn’t work then. There may well be a day of reckoning coming for Donald Trump – but that day is not today.
Read more from Mark Angelides.