WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump scored a tactical victory from the Supreme Court that will likely keep his personal financial records out of public view through the November election, but he framed Thursday's two rulings as a loss imposed by his enemies.
The president was rebuffed in his broader effort to establish that a president can't be forced to give in to the demands of Congress and prosecutors, prompting a series of angry tweets in which he lashed out at Democrats and at the court.
In practical terms, the court effectively ensured that voters won't see potentially embarrassing documents from his bank and accounting firms at least for months to come.
Rather than claim partial vindication, as did his personal attorney Jay Sekulow, Trump seized on the rulings to bolster one of his favorite political themes -- that he's an outsider fighting against a "deep state" that even includes a Supreme Court with a conservative majority.
"Courts in the past have given 'broad deference,'" he tweeted. "BUT NOT ME!"
Critics have said those records -- including tax returns that past presidential candidates made public voluntarily -- would show that Trump has overstated his net worth to promote his image as a billionaire developer, understated it for tax purposes and engaged in hush-money payments to women who alleged they had affairs with him.
The justices sent back to lower courts a case about the House's demands for his financial records, doubtless delaying a resolution of that dispute well past the election. Although they refused to give Trump the categorical immunity he sought from a New York grand jury subpoena for his tax returns, they allowed the president to pursue "subpoena-specific constitutional challenges" in federal district court.
"We're basically starting all over again, sending everything back down to the lower courts," Trump told reporters at the White House. "Frankly, this is another political witch hunt, the likes of which nobody's ever seen before."
Even if Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance succeeds in winning access to the documents, they would be turned over under grand jury rules that will keep them secret at least as long as an investigation continues.
With his approval ratings sagging months into a coronavirus pandemic that has decimated the economy and left 134,000 Americans dead, Trump is waging anti-establishment battles on multiple fronts, from overruling the conclusions of his own public health experts to denouncing efforts to remove Confederate iconography from public spaces.