Supreme Court Signals Quick Action on Trump Financial Records
The U.S. Supreme Court building stands in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg)  

Supreme Court Signals Quick Action on Trump Financial Records


(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court signaled it will move quickly to decide whether Donald Trump’s financial records must be turned over to a House committee, telling the president to file an expedited appeal and ordering the files kept private in the meantime.

The justices on Monday set up a briefing schedule that could let them decide by mid-December whether to take Trump’s appeal in the case, which stems from a House subpoena to his accounting firm. If they accept the case, the justices could rule by the end of their term in late June.

In the same order, the court granted Trump’s request to block the subpoena until the justices act, delaying the delivery of the records for at least several more weeks. The court gave Trump until noon on Dec. 5 to file any appeal.

The five-sentence order said nothing about how the nine justices might rule, or even whether they will agree to hear the appeal. None of the justices publicly dissented.

The case is one of two that are testing the court’s willingness to shield the president from investigations into his personal and business affairs. Both subpoenas went to Mazars USA, which isn’t contesting the demands.

The cases are reaching the Supreme Court as the House moves toward possible impeachment of Trump, centering on his push to have Ukraine announce investigations that could help him politically.

The subpoena from the House Oversight and Reform Committee seeks “all statements of financial condition, annual statements, periodic financial reports, and independent auditors’ reports” in the possession of Mazars, as well as supporting documentation and related communications. It covers Trump’s individual finances as well as those of the Trump Organization.

Primary Purpose

The panel says it wants the documents because it is 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. Chief Justice John Roberts previously put that ruling on a temporary hold by issuing an administrative stay.

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

Under an agreement with Vance, Trump asked the court to resolve the case in its current term. 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. The New York case is Trump v. Vance, 19-635.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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