House urges Supreme Court to lift shield on Trump financial records

The House urged the U.S. Supreme Court to let lawmakers have access to eight years of Donald Trump’s financial records, saying Congress has broad authority to investigate misconduct by the president.

In a legal filing Thursday, the Democratic-controlled House asked the court to allow immediate enforcement of a subpoena sent by lawmakers to Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm. Chief Justice John Roberts this week temporarily blocked the subpoena in an administrative order.

The House said that, if the court extends Roberts’s hold, it should put the case on a fast track so the justices can resolve it in the term that ends in late June. The House said Trump should be required to file his appeal of a lower court ruling against him by Dec. 2 so the justices can use their Dec. 13 private conference to discuss whether to hear the case.

U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court

“Each day of delay harms Congress by depriving it of important information it needs to carry out its constitutional responsibilities,” the House said in a brief filed by the chamber’s general counsel, Douglas Letter.

The case is one of two Trump subpoena fights pulling the Supreme Court into a partisan fray over the president’s personal conduct and business dealings. Trump is also asking the court to stop Mazars from turning over his tax returns to a New York prosecutor. The cases arrive as House Democrats press an impeachment investigation of the president.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee says it wants the documents because it’s considering revising the federal ethics-in-government laws. Trump’s lawyers say the primary purpose is law enforcement, something they say is beyond Congress’s legislative powers. A federal appeals court in Washington backed the committee on a 2-1 vote.

Hush payments

The cases, which arrive as House Democrats press an impeachment investigation of Trump, are pulling the Supreme Court into a partisan fray over the president’s personal conduct and business dealings.

Vance is investigating whether Trump’s business falsified business records to disguise hush payments to two women who claimed they had sex with Trump before he took office. In an appeal filed last week, Trump contended that presidents have broad immunity from criminal investigations while in office.

Trump’s “assertion of absolute presidential immunity is foreclosed by this court’s precedent, which conclusively establishes that no person in this country is so high that he is above the law,” Vance argued in the new filing.

Under an agreement with Vance, Trump asked the court to resolve the case in its current term. In exchange, Vance’s office said it won’t try to enforce the subpoena until the Supreme Court acts.

The congressional case is Trump v. Mazars, 19A545.

Greg Stohr
Bloomberg News