Politics Trump Claims Constitution Still Protects Taxes as Ex-President
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(Bloomberg) -- The legal battle over House Democrats’ efforts to obtain Donald Trump’s tax returns may turn on whether a former president can still assert constitutional protections against congressional requests.
At a scheduling conference in Washington on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta asked lawyers for Trump and House Democrats to offer their preliminary views on whether a May 2020 Supreme Court ruling that previously denied tax records to Congress under the Constitution’s Separation of Powers clause still applied.
Trump Thinks He’s Found a New Defense
In his response to an adverse decision by the Supreme Court, the former president previewed an argument he’s likely to keep using.Trump had already lost a bid to prevent Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. from acquiring his financial records via subpoena. The former president then sought a stay while he searched for other means to stall. As anticipated, the justices rejected the request. Trump then issued one of just a handful of public statements he’s issued since leaving office, blasting “the Continuing Political Persecution of President Donald J. Trump.
Trump lawyer Cameron Norris argued the Supreme Court ruling still protected Trump’s taxes, and claimed a decision from Richard Nixon’s post-presidency supported that position.
“We of course don’t think it’s going to be very fair or very consistent with the Supreme Court opinion for the House to have all its investigative interests based on the fact that he was president, but not have the standard that applies when he was president,” Norris said.
Megan Barbero, a lawyer for the House Democrats, did not directly address the legal question but said the House already has “satisfied even the heightened standards the Supreme Court has set forth for a sitting president.”
Those heightened standards were outlined in a high-court ruling in the suit Trump filed seeking to block a House subpoena issued to his accounting firm, Mazars USA. The justices said in a 7-2 decision that congressional subpoenas seeking the president’s personal information must be “no broader than reasonably necessary” and ordered lower courts to determine whether the House’s request met that standard.
Trump has finally turned his taxes over to New York prosecutors after losing a lengthy court fight
Manhattan prosecutors now have access to a treasure trove of information about the complex world of Trump's finances.CNN on Thursday cited one source as saying that prosecutors got hold of the documents on Monday, hours after the Supreme Court rejected Trump's last ditch effort to block the release of his taxes.
Mehta on Thursday offered no indication of where he stood on whether that standard applies to former presidents. But he made it clear that legal question would be at the heart of the next round of litigation. “That’s a nice preview of what’s to come,” the judge said.
The Mazars dispute is only one strand of a complex series of legal battles centered on Trump’s tax information, which he insisted on keeping secret throughout his presidency.
In a court filing in a separate case on Wednesday, the Biden administration said it was still weighing whether to comply with a different House subpoena demanding that the Treasury Department turn over six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns. A judge set a March 31 deadline for the government to reach a decision.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has obtained Trump’s tax records from Mazars as part of a criminal investigation into the former president’s business dealings. It’s unclear, however, whether Vance will make those documents public.
The case is Trump et al v. Committee on Oversight and Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives et al, 19-cv-01136, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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