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Five takeaways from Supreme Court's rulings on Trump tax returns


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The Supreme Court handed down a split decision Thursday that upheld a New York state prosecutor’s authority to access President Trump’s tax returns but dealt a defeat to congressional Democrats who also sought Trump’s records. 

The overlapping efforts to nab the president’s financial paper trail presented the justices with a gordian knot of intersecting legal conflicts dealing with presidential immunity, Congress’s investigative authority and the power of state prosecutors to gather evidence linked to a sitting president. 

While the justices untangled some of the thorniest issues, key questions remain unanswered as the cases proceed back down to lower courts for further resolution.:snip:

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House Blunders to Blame for Dems’ Setback in Trump Subpoena Case

Just a few minutes into Supreme Court arguments over congressional subpoenas for President Donald Trump's financial records, it was clear that House Democrats were in trouble.

The House had argued that it has far-reaching subpoena powers and can compel disclosure of documents related to any legislation it's considering. Chief Justice John Roberts was not so sure. Congress can consider legislation on any number of subjects, and Roberts pressed House lawyer Doug Letter for just one example of information beyond the reach of a congressional subpoena under the House's proposed theory.

"Your test is really not much of a test," Roberts told Letter, adding that the House's approach would unduly weaken the presidency.

Justice Samuel Alito delivered the body blow a few minutes later, pointedly reminding Letter he could not give "even one example of a subpoena that would not be pertinent to some conceivable legislative purpose."

"That's correct," Letter replied. "Because this Court itself has said Congress's power to legislate is extremely broad."

It was a startling moment—advocates always have a limiting principle in their back pocket when arguing before the Court—and the chief justice made Letter pay for it in Thursday's decision.:snip:

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