Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Thursday kept the fight over President Trump’s financial records alive, all but ensuring that those records won’t be made public before the election.

The big picture: The court ruled that presidents are not immune from investigation, denying Trump the sweeping grant of presidential power he had asked for. But the legal wrangling over Trump's records, specifically, will continue — and they may end up in the hands of Manhattan prosecutors.

Driving the news: In a pair of 7-2 rulings, the court ruled that Manhattan prosecutor Cy Vance has the legal right to subpoena records from Trump’s financial institutions, while rejecting, at least for now, the House's effort to subpoena similar records.

What they're saying: Manhattan District Attorney Cy 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."

  • Trump tweeted soon after the rulings came down: "This is all a political prosecution. I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration! ... Courts in the past have given 'broad deference.' BUT NOT ME!"

These cases matter on their own, as investigations into Trump — and as guidelines for who can investigate any sitting president, and how.

  • Trump had asserted total immunity, arguing that neither Vance nor House committees had any legal authority to subpoena records from his banks and accounting firms.

The court rejected that sweeping claim Thursday — a loss for Trump and the most definitive takeaway from the court’s two decisions.

  • "The president is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the Vance case.
  • But that doesn't mean Vance gets automatic access to the records he wants. The case will go back to lower courts, where Trump's lawyers can try again to fight the subpoenas. They just have to use the same arguments they’d use for a client who's not the president.

And the House will have to come up with new arguments in order to enforce its subpoenas.

  • "The House's approach would leave essentially no limits on the congressional power to subpoena the President’s personal records. A limitless subpoena power could transform the established practice of the political branches and allow Congress to aggrandize itself at the President's expense," Roberts wrote.
  • The court said neither side had put forward a compelling analysis of how to balance congressional subpoenas with the separation of powers, and ordered lower courts to take up that question again.
  • That definitely means the House can't get Trump's records before the election, and it also leaves open the possibility of a future decision that would block congressional subpoenas like these.

The bottom line: The president isn't above investigation, but the boundaries for those investigations aren't fully defined — and you’re not going to see Trump's financial records any time soon.

Read the Manhattan ruling.

Read the ruling on House Democrats' subpoena.

Go deeper

Biden on court packing: It "depends" how the Barrett confirmation is "handled"

Joe Biden said at an ABC town hall on Thursday night that he will come out with a clear position on court packing by Election Day, but that his answer on the issue will depend on how the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is "handled."

The state of play: Biden said he has "not been a fan" of expanding the court because it would change the court's makeup depending on who the president is. But he signaled he would be "open to considering what happens" if Republicans push through Barrett's confirmation before the election without proper debate in the Senate.

Republican rage targets Facebook and Twitter

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republicans and conservatives are unloading on Facebook and Twitter a day after the companies limited the sharing of a New York Post story based on emails and files apparently stolen from Hunter Biden.

Where it stands: The attacks are passionate, but the likelihood of government action against the platforms remains low. Even the most realistic and increasingly popular proposal — to punish online platforms by removing their prized liability shield — would be a steep uphill battle.

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!