The Supreme Court must enforce the subpoena of Trump’s financial records

The Supreme Court must enforce the subpoena of Trump’s financial records

The Supreme Court must enforce the subpoena of Trump’s financial records

The high court's nine justices, confined at home by the novel coronavirus pandemic, will question lawyers for both sides at 10am (9pm in Thailand) by telephone in a highly anticipated session to be broadcast live.

Chief Justice John Roberts anxious openly that the House committees are claiming a "limitless" ability to request private documents of a sitting president.

"Why is this subpoena not supported by a substantial legislative need", Gorsuch asked, according to CNBC.

But she pressed the president's counsel, conservative lawyer and radio host Jay Sekulow, on why Trump should be provided unchecked immunity from state criminal investigations, which are believed to be underway with a Manhattan grand jury. Letter stated that precedent from the Clinton v. Jones case says the court is there to keep any political harassment of the president in check.

Faced with a tough hypothetical posed by Justice Kavanaugh, Letter wouldn't completely close the door on the possibility that the Congress could seek a President's medical records for a legislative goal.

But district attorneys can't investigate alleged crimes outside their jurisdictions, so the idea that hundreds of D.A.'s would launch investigations into a president to score political points is absurd. Trump insists that he is being targeted for political reasons as opposed to a legitimate legislative objective, and that Congress does not have the right to expose individuals without a valid reason. Winning the presidency shouldn't stop the wheels of justice from turning or prevent members of Congress from obtaining the information they need to do their job.

Douglas Letter, general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives, told the high court the lawmakers' subpoena is lawful so long as it is relevant to a conceivable legislative objective.

Trump had said he would make his tax returns public but hasn't done so, unlike every other president in recent history.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled the subpoena had a legitimate legislative goal and was within the statutory authority of the committee. So it's a stretch to argue, as Trump's attorneys did, that the House was now trying to break the bonds of propriety by hoovering up Trump's financial records from the years before he became president.

Meanwhile, Letter's performance came under fire from legal experts, with Law&Crime Network founder Dan Abrams saying he seemed so "woefully unprepared" that "you would never know the House has won every argument in the lower courts".

It's worth noting that the congressional subpoenas at issue have nothing to do with Congress' impeachment power. "Let's assume that the president were to hire me, that I'm going to call the President of the United States, today, and say, 'I know you're handling a pandemic right now for the United States, but I need to spend a couple of - two to three hours with you - going over a subpoena of documents that are wanted by, here, the New York County District Attorney". The liberals appeared more sympathetic toward the House position although they raised questions about the potential lack of limits on Congress' power to subpoena the president's personal records. Numerous loans were granted through Deutsche Bank's New York-based private banking division, which also lent to Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.

The New York subpoena was issued as part of an investigation into hush money payments made to two women who claim they had affairs with Trump, which he denies.

The subpoenas at issue were sparked by the testimony that Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen, gave to the House Government Oversight and Intelligence committees in early 2019. But the court seemed less clear about exactly how to handle subpoenas from Congress and the Manhattan district attorney for Trump's tax, bank and financial records.

Sekulow said a ruling that allowed the NY investigation to proceed would amount to "weaponising" 2,300 prosecutors across the US.

In both cases the court ruled against absolute immunity for the president.

Trump's lawyers, supported by the justice department, contend that he should not be so constrained by Congress and can not be prosecuted while in office.

"We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will grant review in this significant constitutional case and reverse the risky and damaging decision of the appeals court", Trump's team argued in November.

The court seemed unlikely to go that far, but also seemed unlikely to issue sweeping or unanimous rulings that would simply force the banks to promptly hand over Trump's records. It also ruled that the subpoena is lawful because it seeks items related to his private business, not his official capacity as president.

It's been suggested that a ruling against Trump in the Vance matter would likely have no impact on the November elections both because of the time factor and the confidentiality of grand jury proceedings.

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