Fifty-five days ago, President Donald Trump was supposed to file his annual personal financial disclosures, which give a broad snapshot of his money situation. The White House gave its employees 45 extra days to file the report, citing the coronavirus pandemic, making the new deadline June 29.
That was 10 days ago, and Trump still hasn’t released the disclosures. The White House told The New York Times that the president had been given another 45 days, again because of the pandemic, but that he “intends to file as soon as possible.”
Don’t hold your breath, and don’t place any big bets on seeing the documents before November 3. The Trump White House has perfected the art of foot-dragging, producing a regime in which the president is ostensibly required to do certain things as a matter of transparency and accountability—but in reality has wide leeway to avoid them. In theory, rule of law stands. In practice, where it stands is outside the door, rapping fiercely but fruitlessly to come in.
Two major Supreme Court decisions released today, both related to the president’s financial disclosures, have the same effect. In legal terms, the justices delivered a pair of devastating blows to Trump’s lawyers, rejecting attempts by the president to prevent the House of Representatives and the Manhattan district attorney from subpoenaing his tax records. Neither case was especially close: In both cases, seven of the nine justices ruled against the president (with some differences), including both of Trump’s appointees to the Court, while the other two were also skeptical of some of his key claims.