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SCOTUS to Hear Trump Records Dispute   12/14 10:00

   The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear President Donald Trump's pleas to 
keep his tax, bank and financial records private, a major confrontation between 
the president and Congress that also could affect the 2020 presidential 
campaign.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear President 
Donald Trump's pleas to keep his tax, bank and financial records private, a 
major confrontation between the president and Congress that also could affect 
the 2020 presidential campaign.

   Arguments will take place in late March, and the justices are poised to 
issue decisions in June as Trump is campaigning for a second term. Rulings 
against the president could result in the quick release of personal financial 
information that Trump has sought strenuously to keep private. The court also 
will decide whether the Manhattan district attorney can obtain eight years of 
Trump's tax returns as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

   The subpoenas are separate from the ongoing impeachment proceedings against 
Trump, headed for a vote in the full House next week. Indeed, it's almost 
certain the court won't hear the cases until after a Senate trial over whether 
to remove Trump has ended.

   Trump sued to prevent banks and accounting firms from complying with 
subpoenas for his records from three committees of the House of Representatives 
and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

   In three separate cases, he has so far lost at every step, but the records 
have not been turned over pending a final court ruling. Now it will be up to a 
court that includes two Trump appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett 
Kavanaugh, to decide in a case with significant implications reagrding a 
president's power to refuse a formal request from Congress.

   In two earlier cases over presidential power, the justices acted unanimously 
in requiring President Richard Nixon to turn over White House tapes to the 
Watergate special prosecutor and in allowing a sexual harassment lawsuit 
against President Bill Clinton to go forward. In those cases, three Nixon 
appointees and two Clinton appointees, respectively, voted against the 
president who chose them for the high court. A fourth Nixon appointee, William 
Rehnquist, sat out the tapes case because he had worked closely as a Justice 
Department official with some of the Watergate conspirators whose upcoming 
trial spurred the subpoena for the Oval Office recordings. 

   In none of the cases are the subpoenas directed at Trump himself. Instead, 
House committees want records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One, as well as 
the Mazars USA accounting firm. Mazars also is the recipient of Vance's 
subpoena.

   In each case, Vance and House Democrats have argued there is no compelling 
legal issue at stake, since they are seeking records from third parties, not 
Trump himself.

   But Trump said in his appeals that the cases are the first time 
congressional and local criminal investigators have tried to pry free a 
president's records to investigate wrongdoing. "This is a case of firsts," 
Trump's lawyers told the justices about congressional demands for Trump's 
financial records from Mazars.

   The Vance case represents the first time in American history that a "state 
or local prosecutor has launched a criminal investigation of the President," 
the lawyers wrote.

   Appellate courts in Washington, D.C., and New York brushed aside the Trump 
arguments in decisions that focused on the subpoenas being addressed to third 
parties and asking for records of Trump's business and financial dealings as a 
private citizen, not as president.

   Two congressional committees subpoenaed the bank documents as part their 
investigations into Trump and his businesses. Deutsche Bank has been one for 
the few banks willing to lend to Trump after a series of corporate bankruptcies 
and defaults starting in the early 1990s.

   Vance and the House Oversight and Reform Committee sought records from 
Mazars concerning Trump and his businesses based on payments that Trump's 
former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, arranged to keep two women from airing 
their claims of affairs with Trump during the presidential race.


(KR)

 
 
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