SCOTUS to Hear Trump Records Dispute 12/14 10:00
The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear President Donald Trump's pleas to
keep his tax, bank and financial records private, a major confrontation between
the president and Congress that also could affect the 2020 presidential
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear President
Donald Trump's pleas to keep his tax, bank and financial records private, a
major confrontation between the president and Congress that also could affect
the 2020 presidential campaign.
Arguments will take place in late March, and the justices are poised to
issue decisions in June as Trump is campaigning for a second term. Rulings
against the president could result in the quick release of personal financial
information that Trump has sought strenuously to keep private. The court also
will decide whether the Manhattan district attorney can obtain eight years of
Trump's tax returns as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
The subpoenas are separate from the ongoing impeachment proceedings against
Trump, headed for a vote in the full House next week. Indeed, it's almost
certain the court won't hear the cases until after a Senate trial over whether
to remove Trump has ended.
Trump sued to prevent banks and accounting firms from complying with
subpoenas for his records from three committees of the House of Representatives
and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
In three separate cases, he has so far lost at every step, but the records
have not been turned over pending a final court ruling. Now it will be up to a
court that includes two Trump appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett
Kavanaugh, to decide in a case with significant implications reagrding a
president's power to refuse a formal request from Congress.
In two earlier cases over presidential power, the justices acted unanimously
in requiring President Richard Nixon to turn over White House tapes to the
Watergate special prosecutor and in allowing a sexual harassment lawsuit
against President Bill Clinton to go forward. In those cases, three Nixon
appointees and two Clinton appointees, respectively, voted against the
president who chose them for the high court. A fourth Nixon appointee, William
Rehnquist, sat out the tapes case because he had worked closely as a Justice
Department official with some of the Watergate conspirators whose upcoming
trial spurred the subpoena for the Oval Office recordings.
In none of the cases are the subpoenas directed at Trump himself. Instead,
House committees want records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One, as well as
the Mazars USA accounting firm. Mazars also is the recipient of Vance's
In each case, Vance and House Democrats have argued there is no compelling
legal issue at stake, since they are seeking records from third parties, not
But Trump said in his appeals that the cases are the first time
congressional and local criminal investigators have tried to pry free a
president's records to investigate wrongdoing. "This is a case of firsts,"
Trump's lawyers told the justices about congressional demands for Trump's
financial records from Mazars.
The Vance case represents the first time in American history that a "state
or local prosecutor has launched a criminal investigation of the President,"
the lawyers wrote.
Appellate courts in Washington, D.C., and New York brushed aside the Trump
arguments in decisions that focused on the subpoenas being addressed to third
parties and asking for records of Trump's business and financial dealings as a
private citizen, not as president.
Two congressional committees subpoenaed the bank documents as part their
investigations into Trump and his businesses. Deutsche Bank has been one for
the few banks willing to lend to Trump after a series of corporate bankruptcies
and defaults starting in the early 1990s.
Vance and the House Oversight and Reform Committee sought records from
Mazars concerning Trump and his businesses based on payments that Trump's
former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged to keep two women from airing
their claims of affairs with Trump during the presidential race.