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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Supreme Court rules on Trump financial records

Conservative justices vote against Trump in tax case
Conservative justices vote against Trump in t... 02:14

Two Supreme Court rulings Thursday will permit Manhattan prosecutors to access troves of President Trump's business records and tax returns, but the court has pressed pause on Congress' pursuit, CBS News digital reporter Melissa Quinn and campaign reporter Nicole Sganga report. In a momentous defeat for the president in his efforts to shield his personal financial information from state investigators, the high court ruled 7-2 in favor of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. Vance is conducting a criminal investigation into the president's business dealings and hush-money payments made to two women who alleged affairs with the president years before he was elected. Trump-appointed justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joined the majority, while Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented. The justices sent the dispute back to the lower courts.

President Trump responded to a question about the decisions Thursday at an event with Hispanic leaders at the White House, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson.  "Well, the rulings were basically starting all over again, sending everything back down to the lower courts, and you start all over again, so, from a certain point I'm satisfied. From another point, I'm not satisfied, because frankly this is a political witch hunt, the likes of which nobody has ever seen before, it's a pure witch hunt, it a hoax, just like the Mueller investigation was a hoax that I won." Mr. Trump went on to call the ruling "purely political" and said that New York has turned into a "hellhole."

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority, "Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of our Court established that no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding. 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." 

Vance is seeking business records and tax returns dating to 2011 from Mazars USA, Mr. Trump's longtime accounting firm. But the president and his attorneys had rebuffed Vance's efforts to obtain his financial information, arguing the president has "absolute immunity" from state criminal proceedings while in office. The high court, however, rejected Mr. Trump's assertion of absolute immunity from state criminal subpoenas. In a statement after the ruling, Vance hailed the decision as "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."  Jay Sekulow, the president's personal attorney, said in a statement the legal team "will now proceed to raise additional constitutional and legal issues in the lower courts."

Mr. Trump promptly reacted to the court's decision on Twitter, Thursday, calling the outcome "a political prosecution." The president continued to tweet, "Courts in the past have given "broad deference". BUT NOT ME!" Mr. Trump has gone to great lengths to shield his business records and tax returns from public view, mounting legal challenges to subpoenas issued by Vance and a trio of Democrat-led congressional committees for his personal information. Both sets of subpoenas sought disclosures from Mr. Trump's accountants and bankers – Deutsche Bank and Capital One – not from Mr. Trump himself. Both firms have signaled their compliance with the high court's ruling. While the president vowed during the 2016 presidential campaign to release his tax returns once an IRS audit was complete, he has not done so, raising questions from his political opponents as to whether the records would shed light on his vast business dealings.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

After a short tour at a stair manufacturing factory outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Joe Biden took off his new N95 mask and debuted his manufacturing plan, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports. "Donald Trump loves to talk and talk and talk. After 3.5 years of big promises what do the American people have to show for all of the talk?" Biden pitched his "Build Back Better" plan to increase jobs and assist the middle class. With the pandemic impacting so many families, Biden accused the president of using the strife to his advantage. 

"Donald Trump may believe pitting Americans versus Americans may benefit him. I don't," Biden said. He ticked through investments of hundreds of billions of dollars into American-made products and research and development to compete with China. Biden offered no overall price tag for the plan but claimed at least 5 million additional jobs would be produced. He also reiterated that he'd return the corporate income tax rate to 28% and added a warning shot to Amazon that the days of them "paying nothing…will be over."

Throughout the speech, Biden briefly accused the president of defending the Confederate flag and directing federal PPP loans to big business instead of small "mom and pop" businesses, taking specific issue with individual chain restaurants receiving pandemic-relief loans. Biden's more protectionist plan has been complimented by supporters of progressives like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and is a stark departure from Biden's economic voting record, as he voted in favor of NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreements which his primary rivals said cost America thousands of jobs.

TRUMP CAMPAIGN

Vice President Mike Pence, campaigning in Pennsylvania, focused on the country's economic recovery amid a public health pandemic and said the choice for voters this election cycle has never been clearer. CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar says Pence promised voters will be "hearing a lot about the future and a lot about the choice" they will make at the polls this November. "It is a choice between continuing to grow and strengthen the American economy," Pence said, "versus more taxes, more government, more regulation and the kind of economic stagnation that that's always brought."

Pence spent Thursday on a bus tour from Lancaster to Philadelphia. At a roundtable on re-opening the economy in Malvern, Pence talked about the differences between President Trump and the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. "Where President Trump unleashed American energy, we know that under Joe Biden the war on coal would be back," Pence said. "Joe Biden not long ago said that coal miners needed to 'learn to code,'" Pence added. He said going forward, President Trump will build on the momentum from the administration's first term. "We think 2021 could be one the greatest years in the history of the American economy," Pence projected. "But it is all going to be the choice the American people make." Biden was also campaigning in Pennsylvania – just a couple of hours north of Malvern in Dunmore, a point Pence acknowledged, saying, "I know Joe Biden is down the road talking about raising taxes." He added, "President Trump wants to put money in the pockets of working Americans" and said Mr. Trump is also open to another round of direct stimulus checks to support Americans.

CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak says Lancaster County, where Pence began his day, was the largest county President Trump won in Pennsylvania in 2016. A 20-point lead there gave him 137,145 votes, the fourth most from any county in the state. Mr. Trump won Pennsylvania by roughly 44,000 votes out of more than 6 million cast in the state, the narrowest margin in a presidential election for that state in 176 years. 

But as the population of the longtime Republican stronghold has grown, it has become more Democratic. Over the past 20 years, the Democratic electorate in the county has grown 62%, while registered Republicans have grown under 2%.In Chester County, where Pence met with business leaders at Rajant Corporation, Barack Obama was the first Democrat to lead a presidential race since Lyndon Johnson. Although Mitt Romney won Chester by a narrow margin in 2012, Democrats added over 26,000 votes in 2016, and Trump lost to Clinton there by nearly 10 points. Nearly 74,000 Chester Democrats voted in the June primary, a 23% boost from 2016, while 40% fewer Republicans turned out, although the latter could be due to that primary being uncontested. 

According to pool reports, as part of routine testing of those who may be in contact with the vice president at his roundtable at Rajant Corporation, two people tested positive for the coronavirus. Both people were not permitted into the event space and areas where they may have had contact were disinfected. This happened hours before Pence arrived at the location. Before the roundtable, Pence had lunch with 150 supporters at a fundraiser that brought in $1 million. After the discussion on re-opening of the economy, Pence continued his bus tour to Philadelphia, where he delivered remarks to law enforcement officers.

VEEPSTAKES

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS

The Atlanta Mayor, late Wednesday night, issued an executive order requiring all people within the city to wear a mask, reports CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry.  "The governor is not doing enough for the state and his leadership has been irresponsible," Bottoms said in an interview Thursday morning.  "We have to continue to take responsibility for ourselves because there is a lack of leadership in our state and there's a lack of leadership from the White House. And unfortunately, our governor and the president are on the same page."  The executive order does not specify how this mandate will be enforced. Bottoms said she is following the examples of other mayors throughout the state who have issued similar orders.

CBS NEWS COVID CHRONICLES

TOURISM IN COLORADO

CBS News is chronicling what has changed for the lives of residents in the biggest 2020 battleground states amid the coronavirus pandemic. In the latest report, CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte examines tourism in Colorado. According to Colorado's Tourism Office, the state is home to only 1.7% of the U.S. population, but accounts for 7.7% of the country's tourism jobs. Many of those jobs are seasonal, and employees looking to secure winter work are wondering what the season will look like when so much is uncertain. Another looming question — will international visitors be allowed to enter the U.S.? CTO data shows overseas travelers bring more value into the state than domestic travelers, spending an average $2,438 per person per trip in 2018 versus $775 per person for visitors from Mexico and Canada. Another challenge: employers are finding it hard to hire as many workers who are now making more on unemployment. Changing seasons usually brings different opportunities in Colorado, but amid COVID it might bring more headaches. 

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

GOP GUEST LIST

Three more senators responded to questions about whether or not they're planning to attend the Republican National Convention in Florida in August, report CBS News Capitol Hill producer Alan He and CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas told reporters that he probably won't attend. CBS News has previously confirmed at least five GOP senators do not plan to attend. Senator Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin hedged on whether they'll be there. "I think the convention is a challenging situation and a number of my colleagues have announced that they're not going to attend," Leader McConnell said. "We'll have to wait and see how things look in late August to determine whether or not you can safely convene that many people."

PARTY PLANNING

The 2020 Jacksonville Host Committee for the Republican National Convention held a vendor showcase at a local convention center in Jacksonville Thursday, where businesses pitched their services to the host committee for a chance to serve as vendors for the national convention in August. According to a local report by the Jacksonville Daily Record, the host committee invited some of the 1,000 applicants that the committee says applied to participate in the showcase, and the nearly 77 business owners who attended included caterers, bakeries, florists, event planners and breweries. The vendor showcase comes amid a Washington Post report that the GOP convention could be moved to an outdoor stadium according to some officials. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that during a press conference Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said it was his understanding that an outdoor convention was always an option and that the convention will be a safe environment because "safety is non-negotiable." DeSantis said, "I think you look at some place like the Daily's…especially with Florida weather…I think you could do that in a way that'd be very safe. So I think the outside would be a really good idea."  

He continued, "Delegates…need to be comfortable going into those places, and I think that they will be if you're able to do it..." As previously reported by CBS News, the RNC has not disclosed how many attendees the party is planning to host in Jacksonville, but convention officials have said that attendees will be tested and have their temperatures checked daily. Daily's Place amphitheater, mentioned by DeSantis during the press conference Thursday, seats 5,500 people according to its website. 

Mitchell adds that as planning for the Jacksonville convention proceeds, the state added more than 8,000 new COVID-19 cases to its total count Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 232,718. For the 4th time in two weeks, the number of daily cases and testing decreased as the positivity rate increased according to data provided by the Florida Department of Health.

ISSUES THAT MATTER

JOBS

The coronavirus pandemic continues to keep millions of Americans out of work, with more than 2.3 million workers filing jobless claims last week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. There were 1.3 million claims from traditional initial claims and another one million people filed claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which is for self-employed and gig workers, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. While the number of jobless claims has dropped from the peak of close to 7 million in late March and early April, this was the 16th straight week where at least 2 million workers claimed unemployment, when data from the two programs is combined. 

For the week ending June 20, the Labor Department said nearly 33 million people received unemployment benefits, up 1.4 million from the previous week. The news comes a week after the June jobs report showed that real unemployment dropped from 16% to 12%. Economists warned that that wasn't an accurate picture because the survey was completed before a resurgence in coronavirus cases forced many states to tighten regulations on businesses.

SENIOR CITIZENS

An investigation by a local Pennsylvania outlet challenged the data House Republicans have used to attack Democratic governors and their handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes. In June, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana led an effort focused on governors and attorneys general in New York, Michigan, California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Scalise and GOP members from the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis claimed governors defied federal guidelines by allowing individuals who tested positive to be admitted into nursing homes, regardless of their ability to meet CDC guidelines. 

Governors and their state health officials denied the accusations. Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said in a June news conference "there is no evidence" that Governor Tom Wolf's policy "itself contributed to that many deaths." In a press conference with Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry, Scalise and Perry proposed an alternative approach, creating separate COVID-19 facilities for those discharged from the hospital.

This was an approach taken by governors from both parties in Connecticut and Massachusetts, two states that had higher COVID-19 cases than the five states that received letters from House Republicans, as the Sentinel reported. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, and state officials backtracked from this approach in April following an uproar about relocating nursing home residents, and three volunteer facilities reporting positive cases before relocation. 

In Connecticut, some nursing homes are still being used to provide care for COVID-19 patients. First Selectman Brent Colley, who oversaw a health care center that relocated and housed residents, was an outspoken critic of this relocating policy when announced. He told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro while the community has come together to help the center out and keep the spread lower, "when you relocate someone no matter what, they're going to have issues…there's so many variables."

"It is clear based on the mass number of fatalities nationwide – over 40% from nursing homes – that every state has suffered these horrible deaths. But not every states had a strict "must admit" order like NY, NJ, MI, PA, and CA. We must determine why these orders were made and what consequences they had," a Republican committee spokesman said. 

LEGAL MATTERS

SCOTUS REAX

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, CBS News political unit intern Isabella Laufer reports that Democrats took to Twitter to voice their approval of the decision. Mr. Biden reposted a video from October of 2019, where he criticized President Trump's failure to release tax returns, saying, "Mr. President, release your tax returns or shut up." In his repost Biden wrote, "As I was saying." While they recognize that the release of the tax returns will likely take awhile, Democrats largely viewed the decision as a long-term victory. "The Supreme Court reaffirmed today what everyone but Donald Trump already knew: nobody is above the law – not even the President of the United States," Senator Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for Biden's VP pick, tweeted. Other former 2020 presidential candidates reacted, praising the decision. Senator Kamala Harris called it "a major win." Senator Amy KlobucharTom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg all tweeted that no one, even Trump, "is above the law." Congresswoman Karen Bass, also under consideration for Biden's running mate, agreed and tweeted, "The President of the United States is not above the law." Republican representative Rep. Jim Jordan, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, claimed Democrats were politicizing the issue. 

"Today's decisions by the Supreme Court sadly will not end the Democrats' partisan obsession," he said in a statement. "Americans around the country deserve better than the Democrats' never-ending political games." House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also defended the president. "I've watched President Trump abide by all the requests that someone has for financial disclosure. They are much more thorough than any tax returns. It seems to me the New York district attorney and others that have tried for it seem much more political than anything else," he said.

STATE-BY-STATE

FLORIDA

The Florida Democratic Party has announced that it will return funds it received from the Paycheck Protection Program after fielding criticism from Democratic and Republican leaders this week. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that according to information released by the Small Business Administration, the Florida Democratic Party Building Fund was approved to receive between $350,000 to $1 million in PPP funds in April. As CBS News has previously reported, small minority-owned businesses in Florida are still recovering from the economic hit the pandemic has taken on their businesses. "Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Plan to support employers and their efforts to provide funds to keep people working — and like many employers during the shutdown, FDP was concerned about meeting payroll and keeping our staff employed, so we applied," said FDP spokesperson Luisana Pérez Fernández in a statement. "The bank, the loan processor and agents of the Small Business Association approved the funding. It now seems they made a mistake in approving the funding so we are volunteering to return it." A spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida told CBS News that it did not receive PPP funds amid the pandemic. "In May, Florida Democrats chastised President Trump's Paycheck Protection Program.  But it certainly didn't stop them from filing an application, when rules clearly state an organization like a political party were prohibited from receiving PPP. Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo and her team not only submitted an application, but they gladly accepted money from the program," said RPOF Chairman Joe Gruters in a statement. "This certainly raises many questions and it is becoming very clear that the FDP should never have attempted to apply for the PPP funds in the first place."

NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced at a press conference Thursday that the state's Department of Health and Human Services will send up to 250 community health workers to areas throughout the state that have experienced high numbers of COVID-19 cases. The health workers will be responsible for connecting residents to "social support resources," which include testing information, mental health services, and helping individuals find a location to safely isolate if they test positive for COVID-19. This comes as North Carolina reports more than 79,000 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 1,000 hospitalizations throughout the state. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has also announced that the state dispatched 100 contract nurses to Miami-Dade, 100 nurses to the Tampa Bay area and will be bringing in "many more hundreds" to help mitigate the spike in COVID-19 cases in the Sunshine State. 

TEXAS

Yesterday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced his administration would be shutting down next week's in-person state Republican convention for the sake of public safety. Today, the Texas Republican Party announced a lawsuit against the mayor, the city of Houston, and the convention venue for breaking the convention's contract, reports CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte. In a statement, the Texas GOP accused the Houston mayor of playing politics. "Mayor Turner canceled the convention because he wanted to, not due to any 'act of God' – only due to his desire to do so and to hold the Republican Party of Texas to a different standard than other entities." 

Not only is the state party requesting an injunction, but it is also filing a temporary restraining order to prevent Turner from controlling the fate of the convention. Should the event move forward, it would begin July 16.

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE SENATE

GEORGIA

In one of the Georgia Senate races, both candidates have released their first TV ads of the cycle this week, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. Republican Senator David Perdue released two ads Wednesday, and Democratic Senate nominee Jon Ossoff released his first ad Thursday morning. In the ad entitled "We Investigate," Ossoff speaks to the camera about his work as an investigative journalist working to root out corruption. "Fighting corruption is my job, and it's what I'll do as your senator." Sabato's Crystal Ball at the UVA Center for Politics changed the rating for this seat Thursday morning from "likely Republican" to "leans Republican."

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