Thursday, July 09, 2020


Georgetown law professor Josh Chafetz is right:
The first reports on Thursday’s Supreme Court decisions dealing with the subpoenas for President Trump’s financial records sounded like bad news for the president in his effort to keep them hidden. But don’t be fooled.

... Mr. Trump won, because we almost certainly won’t get to see his financial records anytime soon. The decision in the case arising out of the New York State grand jury investigation held that he does not have absolute immunity, but the Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts to consider challenges to the subpoenas at issue. Those proceedings will take some time to play out, and even records that are eventually turned over to the grand jury will be subject to secrecy rules. In the case dealing with the congressional subpoenas, Mr. Roberts threw out the lower courts’ decisions and told them to start over, this time with significantly greater deference to Mr. Trump.

So it is highly unlikely that the subpoenaed records will become public before the November election. And that is what Mr. Trump most cares about.
Trump's lawyers will play stall ball as long as they possibly can. Even in the New York State case, which seems to be less favorable to Trump, there seems to be a lot of room for them to maneuver, as Ian Millhiser notes.
Though [Manhattan DA Cyrus] Vance’s office may continue its probe into Trump, the Vance decision does not mean that this probe will not face additional obstacles. As Roberts notes, Trump still has the “right to challenge the subpoena on any grounds permitted by state law, which usually include bad faith and undue burden or breadth.” The subpoena could also be invalidated if a court concluded that it was “an attempt to influence the performance of [Trump’s] official duties,” or if Trump could show that the subpoenas would “significantly interfere with his efforts to carry out” those duties.
Rush Limbaugh smugly asserts that House Democrats and Vance will stop caring about the Trump case:
But I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t such disappointment at both the New York DA’s office today and Congress that they eventually lose interest in all of this, because it’s of no value to them if they don’t get this stuff before November. And it isn’t going to be made available to them, either the New York DA or the two congressional committees.

Trump’s tax records are not gonna be made available before November. The political value — and that’s all any of this is. There’s no major, great law at stake here. This a pure, raw politics, and after November, it ceases to have very much value at all. And I’m telling you that because of that, there’s probably masked disappointment today where you’re being told that there are high-five celebrations.
I disagree -- but I wonder whether the public will care in a year or so, assuming Trump loses in November. I know that progressives want Trump held accountable for many crimes and misdeeds in office, in a way that George W. Bush and members of his administration were never held accountable, and for crimes prior to his presidency. But I think most of the public will be so pleased to be rid of Trump, and so focused on trying to get the country back on its feet, that there might not be much interest, except among the extremely politically engaged, in any kind of reckoning for Trump and his circle.

Of course, this might be true only if Trump goes quietly, the way most presidents do. We didn't hear much from George W. Bush or Dick Cheney immediately after they left office. I'm not sure that will be true of Trump.

It's conceivable that he'll just slink off and spend the rest of his days golfing and watching TV. But it's more likely that he'll leave office in the most graceless manner possible, use his Twitter feed as an bunker from which to attack the new Biden government, and maybe even start a new TV network to broadcast anti-Democratic attacks 24/7. He might even declare himself a candidate for president in 2024, and I can imagine him continuing to hold rallies, just because he can't live without them anymore.

In a way, I hope so, because, because if he continues to make himself a pain in the ass, the public will be eager to see him brought down, even if he's not president anymore. It would be hilarious if he screwed up his post-presidency as badly as he screwd up his presidency.

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