While President Donald Trump experienced what many saw as a legal setback this week with a U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the release of his tax return information, the news might not be all bad.
During a segment of Fox News Channel’s The Five after Thursday’s ruling, Juan Williams said the 7–2 decision keeping Trump’s tax returns out of the hands of lawmakers — at least for now — should be seen as a “short-term” victory.
“Really came out on top”
“The key thing here for the president in the short term is that his taxes will not likely be out in public before the November election,” Williams pointed out, according to a report from Fox.
Acknowledging that the president was seen after the ruling “with his hands across his chest looking defensively and talking about Obama and witch hunts,” Williams said the president “really came out on top” from a political standpoint.
The Supreme Court’s justices had declared that lower court rulings against the president in this case should be vacated and the decisions reconsidered.
According to Fox, one of the decisions dealt with a subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee to Mazars USA, an accounting firm that Trump has used for both business and personal tax work. Another is focused on a subpoena sent to Deutsche Bank and Capital One by the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees.
“No power to issue a legislative subpoena”
In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts noted the unique circumstances surrounding the cases, writing, according to Fox: “We have never considered a dispute over a congressional subpoena for the President’s records.”
Instead, Roberts determined that in the past “political branches have resolved information disputes using the wide variety of means that the Constitution puts at their disposal.”
While the high court’s opinion will at least delay Congress’ access to Trump’s taxes, Justice Clarence Thomas did not believe it went far enough and argued that the lower court rulings should have been overturned.
“I would hold that Congress has no power to issue a legislative subpoena for private, nonofficial documents — whether they belong to the President or not,” he wrote, as Fox reported.
According to Bloomberg News, Trump will also have another opportunity to make the case against a subpoena from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office seeking his tax records, though justices ruled that he could not claim immunity in the case.
It is still too early to determine how this saga will play out, but Williams is probably right when he describes the Supreme Court ruling as generally favorable for the incumbent president ahead of November’s election.