Politics

Trump asks Supreme Court to hear arguments in fight with Congress over his financial records

Key Points
  • Attorneys for President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court to hear arguments in a case over whether his longtime accounting firm will be required to turn over his financial records to Congress, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said.
  • The request comes after the high court late last month halted a ruling from the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., which would have required the firm, Mazars USA, to turn over the records.
  • The petition is the second that Trump has filed with the top court regarding subpoenas for his financial records.
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to speak to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Attorneys for President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court to hear arguments in a case over whether his longtime accounting firm will be required to turn over his financial records to Congress, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said Thursday.

The request, which was made in a filing known as a petition, comes after the high court late last month halted a ruling from the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., which would have required the firm, Mazars USA, to turn over the records, which cover nearly a decade of the president's personal and business dealings.

The filing was submitted on Wednesday but was not made public until Thursday afternoon.

The petition, authored by William Consovoy, argues that the court should hear the case because it "raises important separation-of-powers questions concerning Congress's authority to subpoena the personal records of a sitting President for legislative purposes."

"This unprecedented subpoena should have been invalidated, and the D.C. Circuit's decision upholding it was mistaken," Consovoy wrote.

The petition is the second that Trump has filed regarding subpoenas for his financial records. It follows one submitted in November asking the court to review a decision that would require Mazars to disclose them to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

VIDEO12:5512:55
The saga of Trump's taxes

Now, the court will decide whether it will hear the cases. If the court agrees to do so, arguments, which could be combined, are expected in April. Decisions will be handed down by the end of the court's term in June.

If the court declines to take either case, Mazars will be automatically required to turn over the documents, and it has said it will do so. It takes the approval of four justices on the nine-judge panel for a case to be granted.

The Democratic-led House Oversight Committee issued the subpoena for Trump's financial records in April after Trump's former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen testified that the president had in the past improperly inflated and deflated estimates of his assets and liabilities.

Cohen is serving a three-year sentence for campaign finance crimes tied to so-called hush money payments made to two women in the run-up to the 2016 election. The women alleged that they had affairs with the president, which Trump has denied.

The committee said at the time that the records were necessary in order to assess ethics in government legislation. Trump's personal attorneys have contended that the committee has exceeded its powers and is pursuing what effectively amounts to a law enforcement inquiry.

In the New York case, Vance's office has said that it is pursuing an investigation into potential violations of New York state law. Trump's attorneys have cast the inquiry as the first time a local or state prosecutor has targeted a sitting president in a criminal inquiry, and argued that the president is immune to such suits during his term in office.

Read the filing:

The New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Vance in a November decision that reasoned that the subpoena was directed to a third party and concerned only nonprivileged materials.

Trump has vigorously fought off efforts to make his financial records, including his tax returns, public. He is the first president in more than 40 years not to disclose his tax records voluntarily.

It is possible that even more cases over the president's financial records will make their way to the high court. On Tuesday, Trump lost another case before the 2nd Circuit involving a subpoena from House Democrats to two of the president's banks seeking his financial records. The court gave Trump attorneys seven days to file an appeal with the Supreme Court in the matter.

The Supreme Court has a 5-4 conservative majority including two Trump appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.