The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on Tuesday regarding whether congress can subpoena eight years of President Donald Trump’s personal financial records, including tax returns.
The New York Post reported that the court “will hear two cases which deal with Democrat-led committees subpoenaing the sitting president’s records, including tax returns from Trump’s banks and records from the Trump Organization.” Trump requested the Supreme Court take the case after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals – which covers six districts in liberal New York, Connecticut, and Vermont – declared congress does have a right to subpoena the president’s personal financial records.
Trump obviously wants to keep these records away from House Democrats, who want to use them to find dirt on the president. Democrats used a claim from proven liar Michael Cohen – Trump’s former “fixer” – that the president lied on his tax returns as the basis for one subpoena.
“The House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees also subpoenaed two banks used by Trump and his business over allegations that he had accepted money from Russia,” the Post reported. “Lawyers for Trump argue that state courts should not be allowed to investigate a sitting president, while Trump himself has accused the committees of trying to expose his personal information.”
The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments via conference call due to the coronavirus shutdown, The Washington Post reported. The Post reported that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito “expressed concern about what he called the lack of limits on the House’s subpoena powers that could be used to harass the president” during oral arguments, saying that if the House can subpoena anything related to any legislation, there isn’t “much protection; in fact that’s no protection.”
House General Counsel Douglas N. Letter argued that there was “ample protection” and that House Democrats weren’t simply trying to harass the president, adding that four lower courts – in liberal New York – all agreed with Democrats.
“If it’s solely for harassment,” Letter said, “it wouldn’t meet the standard.”
Chief Justice John Roberts also disagreed with Letter’s attempts to say congress can subpoena records for anything relating to legislation that might be written.
“Your test is not really much of a test. It’s not really a limit,” Roberts said. “Do you have any alternative to that limitless test?”
Letter suggested the subpoena power could be limited if it interfered with the president’s ability to do his job, but insisted this was not the case, as the subpoenas were to third parties and not to Trump himself, even though the documents pertained to Trump.
The Justice Department argued House Democrats simply wanted to find something to attack Trump, not to create legislation.
“If you look at what they say about intended legislative proposals and why they need the documents, it’s paper-thin,” Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall said, according to the Post.
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