U.S. Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Release Of Trump's Tax Records

Clay Curtis
November 28, 2019

The Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked enforcement of a congressional subpoena seeking President Trump's financial records from an accounting firm, a brief victory for Trump, who has contended that a president can not be investigated or prosecuted for a crime while in office.

The case represents an important showdown pitting the powers of the presidency against the authority of Congress, with Trump fighting doggedly to keep details of this finances private even as he faces an impeachment inquiry in the House. The court gave Trump until December 5 to ask it to take up the case.

The House committee subpoenaed Mazars this year, saying it needed the records to determine if Trump complied with laws requiring disclosure of his assets, and to assess whether those laws needed to be changed.

In a brief order, the court granted the United States president's emergency request to block a subpoena from House Democrats to his long-time accounting firm from moving forward. The president's lawyers will surely comply, and the court is not expected to make a decision on the case before mid-January. If the court decides not to hear the case, the injunction expires and Trump must turn the documents over to Democrats.

The one-page order freezes the status quo as the Supreme Court considers whether to hear an appeal from Trump's personal lawyers to stop enforcement of the subpoena.

The House has said it could move forward with an impeachment vote by the end of December.

DOJ seeks to pause judge's order for McGahn testimony
The report will be delivered to the Judiciary committee, which can subsequently draft articles of impeachment. During that time, McGahn would not have to testify.

"Given the temptation to dig up dirt on political rivals, intrusive subpoenas into personal lives of presidents will become our new normal in times of divided government - no matter which party is in power", Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for the President, argued in court papers.

Mr. Trump's private lawyers contended that the House has no authority to subpoena records unless it seeks information for the objective of writing laws.

In October, a panel of the D.C. Circuit issued a 2-to-1 ruling that traced the long history of courts upholding Congress's investigative authority.

"We conclude that in issuing the challenged subpoena, the committee was engaged in a 'legitimate legislative investigation, ' rather than an impermissible law-enforcement inquiry", wrote Judge David S. Tatel, who was joined by Judge Patricia A. Millett. Trump filed the lawsuit to stop the subpoena to the accounting firm.

The president's legal team argues that he is constitutionally immune from investigation while in office.

The majority said Rao's view laid out in her dissent would "reorder the very structure of the Constitution" and "enfeeble the legislative branch". Chief Justice John Roberts imposed a brief hold to give lawyers both sides to weigh in.

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