UK Politics

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Appeals Over the Release of Trumps Financial Records

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear President Donald Trumps appeals in cases requesting the top court to block the House and a Manhattan investigation from having access to his financial records.

The top court justices met in a private conference on Friday to discuss whether to hear Trumps appeals of lower court decisions that require his accounting firm Mazars USA and two banks to comply with the subpoenas issued by the House and a New York District attorney in a grand jury probe.

Three cases relating to Trumps financial records have reached the Supreme Court in recent weeks after appellate judges upheld the subpoenas. Two of the cases stem from subpoenas that were issued earlier in the year by three House committees as part of their investigations into the presidents dealings. Meanwhile, the third case—the one where the private conference was scheduled—deals with a criminal investigation in Manhattan.

Trump has asked the Supreme Court to reverse the lower courts decisions in all three cases.

The justices on Friday afternoon granted Trumps request to hear the appeals for all three cases and consolidated two of the cases so that they could be heard together (pdf). Oral arguments for all three cases will be scheduled for March 2020.

The subpoenas are unrelated to the two articles of impeachment that were approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Friday morning and could continue to cause concerns for the president into 2020 even if he is acquitted by the Senate.

Manhattan Case

In the Manhattan case, District Attorney of New York County Cyrus Vance Jr. issued a subpoena to Mazars requesting Trumps financial records in relation to a criminal case. Vance Jr. is investigating hush money paid to two women during the 2016 presidential campaign—adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Trump has denied the affairs and any other wrongdoing. Trump sued Vance Jr. in September in an attempt to block the subpoena. The district court denied Trumps application for an injunction over the subpoena and dismissed the case in October, prompting the presidents lawyers to file an appeal.

In early November, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lowers court decision to deny Trump injunctive relief. They said that the president is unlikely to succeed in his claim that he is “absolutely immune from all stages of state criminal process while in office, including pre-indictment investigation, and that the Mazars subpoena cannot be enforced in furtherance of any investigation into his activities.”

Trumps legal team appealed to the Supreme Court on Nov. 14, arguing in their petition (pdf) that the lower courts had incorrectly ruled on the issue of immunity.

Mazars Subpoena Case

The first House case centers on a subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee to Mazars to hand over eight years of financial records involving Trump and his business in April as part of their probe into allegations about the presidents financial statements. Trumps legal team subsequently filed a lawsuit to invalidate the subpoena and asked for an injunction over its enforcement.

In October, a lower court ruled that the committee had the authority to subpoena the records from the New York accounting firm, while the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected Trumps request in November to reconsider the lower courts decision.

In their petition (pdf) to the Supreme Court, Trumps attorneys argued that the subpoena lacked “legitimate legislative purpose” because it cannot exercise powers of law enforcement and a congressional investigation cannot “extend to an area in which Congress is forbidden to legislate.”

This case has been consolidated with the other case involving House subpoenas for documents from two banks.

Deutsche Bank Subpoena Case

Similarly, the second House case involves subpoenas issued by the House Financial Services and House Intelligence committees in April to two banks—Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp—asking them to turn over Trumps financial documents.

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