Supreme Court divided over Trump tax, bank records

A general view of the US Supreme Court building in Washington US

A general view of the US Supreme Court building in Washington US

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The Supreme Court waded uneasily Tuesday in a politically-charged fight over executive accountability as they held oral arguments in cases dealing with subpoenas of President Trump's personal tax and financial records.

Trump did not release his tax returns during the 2016 election and has not done so since then, despite promising that he would.

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on May 1.

The court is in its second week of working remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Letter's squirming may give conservative justices - particularly potential swing votes like Roberts or Kavanaugh - an out for ruling against the House even if they are also uncomfortable with the expansive arguments Trump is making in the case.

What are the cases about?

Trump attorney Patrick Strawbridge asserted that subpoenaing decades of records of the president and his family leads to concerns of harassment.

In all three cases, lower courts in Washington and NY ruled against Trump.

Now, joined by the Justice Department, he is appealing lower court rulings that determined subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives and the Manhattan district attorney to his longtime accounting firm and two banks for years of tax returns, bank records and other financial documents are valid.

Vance, a Democrat, submitted a request to Mazars for Trump's financial documents as part of an investigation into payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels in order to buy her silence about an alleged affair with the billionaire. "He couldn't cite a particular standard for what would in any way constrain or constrict Congress from simply going on fishing expeditions and asking for medical records, et cetera".

"What I find very disturbing in all this", Ginsburg said at one point, is "that the person can be fired or refused to be hired for a reason that has absolutely nothing to do with religion, like needing to take care of chemotherapy".

Carey Dunne, the general counsel of the Manhattan District Attorney's office, sought to shoot that down, stating, "There's really no empirical basis in history for this, this apocryphal prediction" of a "parade of horribles" laid out by Trump's lawyer.

White House Adviser Hassett: May Unemployment Could Climb to 20%
Speaking to Wallace on April 26, Mnuchin said he expected the economy to bounce back by the summer. The White House is "absolutely" pushing for a payroll tax cut, Mnuchin said.

"This might go away if they decide it on narrow grounds", Joseph said.

Two weeks before the arguments, the court asked both sides in the House case for new briefs addressing whether courts have power to resolve that dispute.

"Why should we not defer to the House's views on its own legislative purposes?"

"These cases are of tremendous concern not just for what happens with this president, but what happens with the balance of power and the separation of powers", says Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill. "The subpoenas here don't even come close". Although the justices showed little interest Trump's bid for an absolute ban on state grand jury subpoenas involving a sitting president, a majority seemed inclined to put some limits on what lawmakers and prosecutors can seek.

The discussion on the call was amiable enough, with one of the lawyers referring to the others as his "friends".

The cases are among the most consequential in years on the parameters of presidential powers. That means Trump's two appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, ask questions last.

The liberal justices clearly want to rein him in and restrict the power of the office.

The Supreme Court is taking up the biggest cases of its arguments by telephone.

Justice Roberts also seemed to disagree with Mr Letter, who argued that lawmakers had broad authority to seek information about a president for the objective of writing laws.

"Your test is not much of a test".

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

Prosecutors, on the other hand, are clearly allowed to conduct law enforcement, and the court seemed more receptive to Vance's subpoena.

Perhaps the most memorable response from Letter, at least on the question of whether the congressional subpoenas are too burdensome, was this: "Not a single thing is required of the President or the White House". 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. In the House case, he questioned Trump's contention that three House committees lacked a legitimate legislative objective for the subpoenas, asking the president's lawyer whether the court should be "probing the mental processes" of lawmakers.

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