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Listen live: Supreme Court hears arguments over Trump's tax records

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Key Points
  • The Supreme Court is hearing a set of landmark cases over whether President Trump may keep his tax records shielded from investigators.
  • The president is asking the justices to reverse three lower court rulings that would require his banks and longtime accounting firm to turn over his financial documents to Democratic-led congressional committees and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. 
  • Decisions are expected over the summer, as Trump makes his case to voters to give him a second term in office in November's election. 

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The Supreme Court is hearing a set of landmark cases over whether President Donald Trump may keep his tax records shielded from investigators. 

The president is asking the justices to reverse three lower court rulings that would require his banks and longtime accounting firm to turn over his financial documents to Democratic-led congressional committees and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. 

The arguments, which began at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday and will take at least two hours, are being conducted by phone as a precaution against the spreading coronavirus, and streamed live to the public. Decisions are expected over the summer, as Trump makes his case to voters to give him a second term in office in November's election. 

Read more: Supreme Court hears arguments over whether Trump can keep tax records shielded from Congress

The cases have the highest profile of the court's term and are the first in which Trump's personal financial dealings have come to the justices. The Supreme Court's nine-member panel has a conservative majority, with five justices appointed by Republicans and four by Democrats. Two, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were appointed by Trump. 

According to David Cole, the national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, at stake in the cases are "two of the most fundamental principles of the American constitutional system. Checks and balances on the one hand, and the rule of law and the notion that no one is above the law on the other." 

For the first hour or so, the court is hearing arguments in two cases involving subpoenas issued by Democratic-led congressional committees to Mazars USA, the president's longtime accounting firm, and two of his banks. The committees have said they are pursuing investigations into whether Trump lied about his finances before he became president in addition to possible foreign money laundering. 

In the second hour, the court will hear arguments over subpoenas issued by Vance to the Trump Organization and Mazars. The Manhattan district attorney has said he is investigating potential violations of New York state law related to hush money payments to two women, who have said they had affairs with the president, ahead of the 2016 election. Vance has not named specific charges or targets.

Attorneys for the president have argued that none of the subpoenas should be enforced for at least as long as Trump remains in office.

In the congressional cases, they have argued that House Democrats have essentially taken on the role of prosecutor, rather than legislator. The attorneys argue that the committees lack a valid legislative purpose for their subpoenas. In the New York case, Trump's attorneys argue that allowing every local prosecutor in the country to investigate a sitting president would burden the office. 

In response, the congressional Democrats have said they are well within their rights to pursue an investigation that could lead to relevant legislation. And Vance's office has argued that its subpoenas are unlikely to burden the president because they are directed to third parties, concern information unrelated to his job as president, and do not require him to take any action.  

The consolidated congressional cases are Trump v. Mazars, No. 19-715 and Trump v. Deutsche Bank, No. 19-760. The New York case is Trump v. Vance, No. 19-635.