What to Know in Washington: Decisions Day for Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court will end its term this morning with historic rulings that will probably determine whether the public sees President Donald Trump’s long-hidden financial records before the November election.

House Democrats and a New York state prosecutor are each trying to get Trump’s personal and business records from his accounting firm. Lawmakers are also demanding information from his banks.

The court is expected to issue two rulings: one covering subpoenas issued by House committees and one concerning a subpoena from the New York grand jury.

The court will start issuing opinions at 10 a.m. All three remaining opinions should be out by 10:20 a.m.

There are five subpoenas. Four are from three House committees — Oversight, Financial Services and Intelligence — and one is from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who is conducting a criminal investigation.

The subpoenas are all directed to third parties — to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, and his banks, Deutsche Bank and Capital One Financial. The subpoenas seek years of Trump’s personal financial records, as well as those of his family members, plus records from the Trump Organization and his other business entities.

Only Vance’s subpoena to Mazars explicitly asks for Trump’s tax returns, but the broad language of the House subpoena to Mazars would seem to cover those as well.

If Trump loses the House case, his returns will most likely be released this year. After years of battling for the public release of Trump’s tax forms and other financial documents, Democrats would be reversing themselves if they chose to keep them secret.

Greg Stohr breaks down what to know before the big decisions.

Photographer: Craig Hudson/Bloomberg
Supreme Court

What to Watch Today

Appropriations Markups: The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up the fiscal 2021 subcommittee allocations, as well as the State and Foreign Operations, Military Construction-VA, and Agriculture-FDA appropriations bills.

On the Floor: The Senate holds a pro forma session this morning at 10 a.m., and the House holds a pro forma session at 2 p.m.

Today’s Hearings:

  • Russian Bounties: The House Foreign Affairs Committee holds a virtual hearing on the Trump administration’s handling of reports of Russian bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Former CIA Deputy and Acting Director Michael Morell, former National Security Council Senior Director for Russia/Eurasia Celeste Wallander, former Commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan and NATO’s Resolute Support Mission Gen. John Nicolson, and former Defense Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe and NATO Policy Ian Brzezinski will testify.
  • DOD Law Enforcement Role: The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on Defense Department authorities and roles related to civilian law enforcement. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley will testify.
  • Minorities & Business Capital: The House Financial Services Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee during a virtual hearing will discuss women and minority-owned businesses’ access to capital and financial services during Covid-19.
  • Consumers & Virus Risk: The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce scheduled a hearing on consumers and increased risk during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Coronavirus Pandemic

Trump’s School-Opening Demand Dumps New Decisions on States: The president said in tweets yesterday that his administration issued guidance on reopening schools that was too tough, and that he would cut funding for schools that didn’t open their doors to students for the coming academic year. His White House Coronavirus Task Force later pushed for a full reopening of schools — without providing any detailed guidance on how to bring all students back.

The White House effort sparked accusations of federal government overreach, especially as most states grapple with rising case counts. In California, which reported its biggest daily jump in new cases yesterday, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said any decision on reopening schools will be based on what the case count is then.

And in New York, once the U.S. epicenter and now one of the biggest success stories, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Trump has no authority to order schools open. “We will open the schools if it is safe to open the schools,” said Cuomo, who frequently sparred with the president over reopening businesses. Read more from Emma Court and David R. Baker.

Democrats Probe Platforms on Virus Disinformation: House Democrats are asking Facebook, Google and Twitter to provide monthly reports on any actions they’re taking to combat pandemic-related “disinformation” on their platforms. House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders asked CEOs of the platforms to request reports, according to a statement from the panel’s Democrats. They noted the three companies have reportedly already agreed to provide reports to the European Commission, Rebecca Kern reports.

Trump Rally Likely Fueled Virus Cases, Official Says: The top health official in Tulsa, Okla., said the president’s campaign event on June 20 and accompanying protests likely boosted the number of coronavirus infections in the area. “We do have the highest number of cases, and we have had the significant events in the past few weeks that more than likely contributed to that,” according to the city’s Health Department director, Bruce Dart. An estimated 6,200 people came to the city’s 19,000-seat BOK Center, many without any masks. Paul Stinson and Jordan Fabian have more.

Elections & Politics

Biden’s Manufacturing Plan Targets Trump on Economy: Joe Biden will begin rolling out his plan today to repair the U.S. economy as he seeks to improve his standing with voters on one of the few issues where he lags Trump. Biden will frame the economic argument for the remainder of his campaign with a speech near his hometown of Scranton, Pa., a place that’s been synonymous with the blue-collar workers who helped Trump win the state in 2016. He will unveil policies intended to foster manufacturing and encourage innovation, adopting some ideas from his progressive primary rivals but avoiding the big-ticket proposals like the Green New Deal.

The former vice president’s plan is divided into four areas, the first of which he’ll address in more detail today: a push to buy American and create manufacturing jobs, costing at least $700 billion; building infrastructure and clean energy, advancing racial equity; and modernizing the “caring” economy such as child-care and elder-care workers and domestic aides. His campaign said he will follow the speech with detailed policy proposals before the Democratic National Convention, which begins Aug. 17. Read more from Jennifer Epstein.

  • Meanwhile, The task forces established to forge a united platform from the Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) policy agendas largely sidelined some of the most sweeping proposals at the heart of the latter’s presidential bid. In the 110-page document published yesterday, the task forces offered hundreds of policy recommendations that will be submitted to the Democratic National Committee, which will craft the official platform of the party. There is no mention of Medicare for All, tuition-free public college, or the Green New Deal. Read more from Tyler Pager.

Misinformation Biggest Threat to Elections, Panel Told: Misinformation is the biggest threat that could sabotage the general election in November, state and local election officials told the Election Assistance Commission yesterday. The panel heard from officials from Georgia, Ohio, and Wisconsin in an effort to understand what caused primary election meltdowns in those states and apply lessons to the November election. Read more from Kenneth P. Doyle.

Mellon Leads 2020 GOP Donors: The top Republican donor in the 2020 election is the reclusive heir to one of the great fortunes of the Gilded Age, who over the course of a long career has flown commercial jets for Pan American Airlines, battled with unions, and sued over money he gave to search for Amelia Earhart’s lost plane. This election cycle, he’s given millions to support GOP candidates who, he hopes, will dismantle social welfare programs he calls “Slavery Redux”—but once championed.

Timothy Mellon, the great grandson of Mellon Bank founder Thomas Mellon and grandson of Andrew Mellon, the U.S. Treasury secretary during the initial years of the Great Depression, has given $30 million in this cycle to super PACs backing Republican candidates. That includes $10 million—one of the year’s single biggest donations—to America First Action, the group backing Trump’s reelection. Read more from Bill Allison.

What Else to Know Today

Lopez Obrador Reboots U.S.-Mexico Relations: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s first visit to the White House sealed an unlikely partnership with Trump to launch a new phase in the relations between the neighbors amid criticism in the Latin American country. Read more from Eric Martin and Michael O’Boyle.

  • The White House released a list of expected industry attendees for a dinner with Trump and AMLO last night, which included about two dozen names of executives across industries. Read the list here.

Roberts’ Fall Shines Light on Limited Transparency: The U.S. Supreme Court, which Chief Justice John Roberts has called “the most transparent branch” in the federal government, responded to the coronavirus pandemic by livestreaming remote arguments, which allowed people normally shut out of the court to hear arguments for the first time ever, in real time. But the pandemic has also left its already-cloistered justices even more out of sight than usual. That fact was laid bare when the court acknowledged this week that Roberts was hospitalized last month after falling—only after The Washington Post inquired. Read more from Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson and Jordan S. Rubin.

Fed’s Top Ranks Dominated by White Men: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has said that there’s no room for racism at the central bank and that diversity and inclusion are a “very high priority.” A close look at the Fed’s own makeup shows that this powerful institution, the foremost authority on the economy in the U.S., still has a lot of work to do on that front. Read more from Catarina Saraiva, Steve Matthews and Dave Merrill.

Merck CEO Says Dearth of Black Executives Shows Lack of Progress: Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier is one of only four Black CEOs at the helm of a Fortune 500 company, a reflection of how difficult it remains for people of color to ascend the executive ranks of corporate America, he said. “I would say that if you had gone back 25 years, the most pessimistic observer would have thought we’d have more than 4 out of 500,” Frazier said in an interview on Leadership Live With David Rubenstein on Bloomberg Television. Read more from Riley Griffin.

Trump’s Nuke Plan Divides Town: A South Carolina factory produced tritium and plutonium for U.S. nuclear weapons during the Cold War, employing thousands of workers but leaving behind a toxic legacy of radioactive waste. Now the Trump administration has proposed spending $9 billion over 10 years to restart production of bomb parts there and at another site. The plan has raised the welcome prospect of new jobs though also rekindled environmental fears. Read more from Ari Natter and Charlie Mcgee.

N.Y. Proposes Sweeping NYPD Changes: New York’s attorney general, Letitia James (D), proposed sweeping changes in the way New York City regulates the largest U.S. police department, including more oversight of many police officer practices and strategies, and less authority for the police commissioner. Read more from Henry Goldman.

Vanguard, NYSE Weigh China Crackdown: Vanguard, the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq are about to get the chance to push back on an escalating risk to their bottom lines: threats from Capitol Hill and the Trump administration to dramatically curtail U.S. investments in Chinese companies. Read more from Ben Bain.

China Says U.S. Driven by ‘McCarthy-Style Paranoia’: China’s top diplomat blasted U.S. policy toward Beijing while also proposing a blueprint for getting spiraling relations between the world’s biggest economies back on track. Read more.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zachary Sherwood in Washington at zsherwood@bgov.com; Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michaela Ross at mross@bgov.com; Loren Duggan at lduggan@bgov.com; Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com