For a long time, it has been clear that Donald Trump and his family and associates were going to try and block any and all investigations into their affairs by refusing to cooperate with investigators, forcing them to go to court to get information, and then fighting those legal proceedings every step of the way. Given the way that the US legal system is structured, if you have the money, you can have your lawyers throw roadblock after roadblock to frustrate investigators who may be tempted to give up as the time and money involved mount up.
It is only the government (or an equally deep-pocketed opponent) that can go toe-to-toe against this strategy and two of them (the Attorney General’s office of the state of New York and the Congressional committee investigating the events of January 6, 2021) have been dogged.
Yesterday, the latter scored a major victory when the US Supreme Court by an 8-1 voted denied an emergency request by Trump’s team to block a ruling by the lower Appeals Court that the National Archives must hand over documents to the committee.
Trump’s defeat in court allows the select committee to obtain from the National Archives some of the most sensitive White House records from his administration, including call logs, daily presidential diaries, handwritten notes and memos from his top aides.
The documents, which Trump tried to shield behind claims of executive privilege, also included materials in the files of his former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy counsel Pat Philbin and adviser Stephen Miller.
The supreme court’s action, which follows the earlier rejection of Trump’s request by two lower courts, is also likely to have a cascading effect on other lawsuits filed against the panel, which hinged on the success of Trump’s pending litigation.
Lawyers for Trump had urged the supreme court to take the case as they disagreed with the unanimous ruling of the US appeals court for the DC circuit that the current president, Joe Biden, could waive executive privilege over the objections of a former president.
The lower court rulings directing the National Archives to turn over the records “gut the ability of former presidents to maintain executive privilege over the objection of an incumbent, who is often, as is the case here, a political rival”, they said.
But in an unsigned opinion, the nation’s highest court rejected those arguments, upholding the appellate court ruling that found that although Trump had some limited power to exercise executive privilege, it was not sufficient to overcome Biden’s waiver.
The court cited a 1977 supreme court decision in a dispute between former president Richard Nixon and the National Archives, which said the sitting president was in the best position to decide whether the protection should be asserted.
Meanwhile NY Attorney General Letitia James made a court filing accusing the Trump family and business of fraud
Her office said investigators had found a pattern in which the Trump Organization had used dubious or unsupported methods to exaggerate the worth of things it owned.
In one example out of many, the legal filing said the company boosted the estimated value of Trump’s Manhattan penthouse by $200 million by saying it was nearly three times its actual size.
Trump’s financial statements containing the pumped-up values were then submitted to banks to obtain credit and to comply with terms of existing loans, James’ office said. The attorney general’s office said inflated financial statements once helped Trump secure $300 million in loans from Deutsche Bank.
The legal filing said the company also overvalued land donations made in New York and California to justify millions of dollars in tax deductions.
Tuesday’s filing was meant to persuade a judge that Donald Trump and two of his children, Don Jr. and Ivanka, should be forced to answer questions under oath.
Trump and his family are, and have always been, grifters on a massive scale so I have no difficulty in believing that they were involved in fraud. The question is whether they will be convicted.