US President Trump's attorneys claimed the president was immune from criminal investigation – a claim rejected by the court.
The court ruled 7-2 against US President Donald Trump on Thursday in a case brought by Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat who is seeking eight years of the president's financial records in connection with an alleged "hush money" payment made to porn actress Stormy Daniels.
Trump's attorneys had claimed the president was immune from criminal investigation – a claim rejected by the court.
"Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of our Court established that no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding," the court said. "We reaffirm that principle today."
But the court sidestepped a major ruling on whether three House committees could also obtain Trump financial documents under subpoena, giving Trump at least a short-term win. Litigation will now continue in lower courts in both cases.
Vance called the ruling "a tremendous victory for our nation's system of justice and its founding principle that no one – not even a president – is above the law.
This is a tremendous victory for our nation’s system of justice and its founding principle that no one – not even a president – is above the law. https://t.co/jVm15aph7s— Cyrus Vance, Jr. (@ManhattanDA) July 9, 2020
Trump responds on Twitter
"Our investigation, which was delayed for almost a year by this lawsuit, will resume, guided as always by the grand jury's solemn obligation to follow the law and the facts, wherever they may lead," Vance said.
Even if Trump's financial records are turned over to prosecutors by his accounting firm Mazars they may remain hidden from public view because of grand jury secrecy.
Trump fired off a string of furious tweets following the rulings.
"This is about PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT," he tweeted.
"This is all a political prosecution," Trump said. "Now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!"
....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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2020
Final outcome could be delayed
The New York case ruling does not mean the documents will be handed over immediately because of expected wrangling in lower courts. A final outcome could be delayed in both cases until after the November 3 election in which Trump is seeking a second term in office.
Jay Sekulow, Trump's attorney, welcomed the rulings, seeking to portray them as a win for the president.
"We will now proceed to raise additional constitutional and legal issues in the lower courts," said Jay Sekulow, Trump's personal lawyer.
Democrats keep up fight
Democratic leaders said the rulings showed that Trump is not above the law, while those investigating the president vowed that they would ultimately get what they were looking for.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats would not stop investigating Trump and would press forward in seeking to enforce the subpoenas.
"Congress's constitutional responsibility to uncover the truth continues, specifically related to the president's Russia connection that he is hiding," Pelosi said, in reference to the contention that Trump's financial records could show such an entanglement.
Today, the Supreme Court, including two of the President’s appointees, affirmed that President Trump is not above the law, recognized Congress’s constitutional authority to conduct oversight #ForThePeople & upheld the separation of powers that is the genius of our Constitution.— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 9, 2020
"The vice is tightening. He may have avoided the political fallout in this election, but he doesn't dodge the legal fix he is in," Democratic Representative Peter Welch said.