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Tags: Donald Trump | Supreme Court | financial records | subpoenas | banks | mazars | deutsche bank

What You Need to Know About the SCOTUS Fight Over Trump's Financial Records

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The U.S. Supreme Court (Saul Loeb/Getty Images)

Thursday, 09 July 2020 07:49 AM

The U.S. Supreme Court is due to rule on Thursday on three cases involving efforts by Democratic-led House of Representatives committees and a prosecutor in New York City to obtain President Donald Trump's financial records from third parties.

Here is an explanation of the cases.

What Are the Three Cases?

Two of the three cases concern attempts by House committees to enforce subpoenas seeking Trump's financial records from three businesses: Trump's longtime accounting firm Mazars LLP and two banks, Deutsche Bank and Capital One.

The court consolidated these two cases. During May oral arguments, some conservative justices raised questions about subpoenas being used to harass the president.

The other case concerns another subpoena issued to Mazars for similar information, including tax returns. This one was issued as part of a grand jury investigation into Trump being carried out by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat. In the May oral arguments in that case, the justices seemed less sympathetic toward Trump.

Trump sued in federal courts to try to prevent the subpoenas from being enforced. In all three cases, lower courts in Washington and New York ruled against him.

Unlike other recent presidents, Trump has refused to disclose his tax returns and other materials that would shed light on the scope of his wealth and his family-run real estate business.

What Does the House Subpoena to Mazars Seek?

The House Oversight Committee in April 2019 issued a subpoena to Mazars seeking eight years of accounting and other financial information in response to the congressional testimony of Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer. Cohen said Trump inflated and deflated certain assets on financial statements between 2011 and 2013 in part to reduce his real estate taxes. Cohen was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to charges including violating campaign finance law, bank fraud, tax evasion and lying to Congress.

What About the House Subpoenas to the Banks?

The House Financial Services Committee has examined possible money laundering in U.S. property deals involving Trump. The House Intelligence Committee has investigated whether Trump's dealings left him vulnerable to the influence of foreign individuals or governments.

The two committees issued subpoenas in April 2019 requiring Deutsche Bank to hand over the banking records of Trump, his children and his businesses.

Investigators hope the records will reveal whether there are any financial links between Trump and Russia's government, sources familiar with the probe have said.

Deutsche Bank was the only major lender to conduct business with Trump in recent years - doing so even though he defaulted on loans worth hundreds of millions of dollars that the German bank provided him between 2004 and 2008. Sources within Deutsche Bank have denied any Russian connections to Trump loans.

At the time he became president in January 2017, Trump owed the bank around $350 million, according to sources.

The Financial Services Committee also issued a subpoena to Capital One, which had maintained a long-term relationship with Trump and has been scrutinized for some of its business practices.

What Is at Stake in the House Subpoenas Cases?

If Trump loses, the material would need to be handed over to Democratic lawmakers, most likely before the Nov. 3 election in which Trump is seeking a second four-year term. The ruling would make clear that a president, at least when it comes to information held by third parties, cannot block House subpoenas.

Trump's lawyers advanced several arguments, including that Congress had no authority to issue the subpoenas, a broad assertion of presidential power. If the court were to embrace Trump's broadest arguments, it would severely weaken the ability of Congress to conduct oversight of a president.

What Is the New York Prosecutor Investigating?

Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, in September 2019 sought nearly a decade of tax returns. It is part of a criminal investigation that began in 2018 into Trump and the Trump Organization, the president's family real estate business, spurred by disclosures of hush payments made to two women who said they had past sexual relationships with him - pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Trump and his aides have denied the relationships.

What Is at Stake in the New York Case?

Trump's lawyers argue that his records cannot be handed over because of his authority as president under the Constitution, contending he is immune from any criminal proceeding while in office. They have downplayed prior Supreme Court rulings regarding limits on the reach of presidential authority. In a lower court hearing, Trump's lawyers argued that law enforcement officials would not have the power to investigate Trump even if he shot someone on New York's Fifth Avenue.

© 2021 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

The U.S. Supreme Court is due to rule on Thursday on three cases involving efforts by Democratic-led House of Representatives committees and a prosecutor in New York City...
financial records, subpoenas, banks, mazars, deutsche bank, capital one
Thursday, 09 July 2020 07:49 AM
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