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Supreme Court to hear Trump pleas to block subpoenas for financial records

Posted at 4:42 PM, Dec 13, 2019

The Supreme Court said Friday it will consider whether the House and a New York prosecutor can subpoena President Donald Trump's longtime accounting firm and banks for his financial records, two monumental disputes concerning separation of powers and Trump's broad claims of immunity that will be decided in the heart of the presidential campaign.

In a brief order , the justices granted requests from Trump's personal lawyers to hear the cases, ensuring that the subpoenas won't be enforced while impeachment proceedings play out.

The cases will be heard in March, with rulings expected by June.

The Supreme Court's decision to hear the cases means that after years of Trump shielding his documents, the nine justices will make the final decision on whether the records should he released. The President's foes have sought his financial records citing a variety of investigations into hush money payments, foreign involvement in a US election, violations of the emoluments clauses and inquiries into potential violations of ethics rules.

How the court rules in the cases before them could have far-reaching implications, stretching well beyond the impeachment proceedings and the Trump era. In three cases that have made it to the Supreme Court, Trump has lost in the lower courts where judges have pointed out that other recent presidents have voluntarily disclosed their tax records.

It takes four justices to agree to take up a case, which on the nine-justice court does not mean they will ultimately rule in the President's favor. The court ultimately ruled unanimously against President Bill Clinton in a case arising out of a civil suit, as well as in a case relating to President Richard Nixon and the Watergate tapes.

Deutsche Bank and Capital One

One of the House subpoenas comes from the Intelligence and Financial Services Committee issued to Deutsche Bank and Capital One asking for a variety of documents from the President, his family, the Trump Organization and several affiliated entities.

The House says it needs the documents because committees are investigating issues such as whether the banks are complying with anti-money laundering and due diligence compliance programs. House lawyers point to reports revealing that "several Trump properties were purchased using anonymous shell companies funded by Russian oligarchs alleged to have previously engaged in money laundering."

In addition, the Intelligence Committee is investigating efforts by Russia and other foreign powers to influence the US political process "including potential leverage that foreign actors may have over President Trump, his family, and his business."

In court papers, Trump's attorneys say the subpoenas are "extraordinarily broad" and that they "target financial institutions that the President, his businesses, and his family used long before his election to office."

A federal appeals court allowed the subpoenas for most of the documents to go forward.

"Unquestionably, disclosure of the financial records sought by the Committees will subject [Trump's] private business affairs to the Committees' scrutiny," the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month, "however, inquiry into private affairs is not always beyond the investigative power of Congress."