The Supreme Court on Thursday said President Trump is not immune from New York’s subpoena, but prosecutor will not get documents now.
Chief Justice John Roberts penned the 7-2 opinion, and was joined by Trump's two nominees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito filed dissenting opinions.
Roberts said, “we reaffirm that principle today and hold that the President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need.”
About the case: New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance had served a subpoena on Trump's long-time accounting firm, Mazars USA, for his tax returns as part of an investigation into hush money payments to two women with whom the President allegedly had extra-marital affairs pursuant to testimony of Michael Cohen. (Trump has denied the affairs.)
Key moments from the oral arguments: In early May, Trump's attorneys asked for "temporary presidential immunity" against the prosecutor's subpoena.
Several of the justices did not seem receptive to Trump's broad claims of immunity, pointing at times to court precedent concerning Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton that were relied upon by the lower courts that ruled against Trump.
Justice John Roberts asked a lawyer for Trump about the fact that in Clinton v. Jones, the court allowed a private citizen to bring civil suit against a sitting president.
"You focus on the distraction to the President" in this case, Roberts told a lawyer for Trump, but he said in the Clinton case, "we were not persuaded that the distraction in that case meant that discovery could not proceed."
Justice Sonia Sotomayor stressed that New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance was not targeting official acts by the President.
"You are asking for a broader immunity than anyone else gets," she told a Trump attorney.
And when he emphasized that the president is different than an ordinary litigant, Justice Elena Kagan shot back, saying: "The President isn't above the law."