How Bad, And What Are The Implications Of Trump’s Legal Troubles?

This article first appeared at on 10th July

At their final sitting of this term, the US Supreme Court offered considerable relief to those fearing the rule of law was in mortal danger. In two long-running cases, they effectively ruled that President Trump is not immune from investigation. It did not, however, give those voices what they wanted most – a means of removing Trump from office before November.

There were two cases. Trump was fighting the Manhattan District Attorney, who has subpoenaed his tax returns and financial records as part of a criminal investigation, from his bankers and accountants. By a 7-2 margin, the court ruled in favour of the prosecutors.

The second case was similar, but brought by Congress. Here, the court ruled that House lawyers must improve their argument. This will now go back to the lower courts.

Few expect documents to go public before November

The good news for Trump is a general consensus among legal experts that these rulings mean nothing will come out before the election in November. The US court process will simply take too long. That certainly applies to the Congressional subpoenas. Trump will continue to successfully block that democratic oversight.

However, the situation regarding New York is not crystal clear. These Trump investigations are well developed – delayed for a year by these legal challenges – and both Deutsche Bank and Mazars immediately confirmed they would comply. In theory at least, DA Cyrus Vance could move quickly and potentially indict the president before November 3rd.

None of this prevented Trump from declaring victory and employing his usual refrain that all the investigations are a political witch-hunt. Furthermore, it is widely reported that he will pardon Roger Stone today. Four days before the Machiavellian advisor is due to go to jail, and a couple after Facebook banned a network of fake accounts connected to him.

So what are the implications for November? It is hard to make a confident call about the New York case from outside. Shocking information about Deutsche Bank is emerging from investigations in multiple countries, such as their involvement in money laundering for the Russian mafia. Earlier this week they were fined $150M for a post-conviction relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

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