Monday, November 18, 2019

There’s A Big Fight Brewing In The Supreme Court Over Trump’s Financial Records And Presidential Immunity

Two landmark disputes over President Donald Trump’s financial records are underway in the Supreme Court, implicating major questions of presidential immunity and congressional power.
The cases arise from Trump’s bid to shield his personal tax records and other Trump Organization financial documents from a congressional panel and a New York City prosecutor. An appeal to the high court is Trump’s last resort to prevent release of personal and professional financial information while an impeachment inquiry unfolds in the House of Representatives.
Manhattan prosecutor seeks records to investigate hush money payments
The first case pertains to a subpoena Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance served against Mazars USA, LLP, an accounting firm that prepared the Trump Organization’s business statements and the president’s personal tax returns. The subpoena relates to Vance’s ongoing investigation of alleged hush money payments from Trump to Stephanie Clifford, a pornographic film actress, and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. The president supposedly had sexual liaisons with both women.
Trump and his personal lawyers filed a lawsuit to bar Mazars from complying with the subpoena. A federal trial judge and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the president, prompting an appeal to the Supreme Court on Thursday.
The case tees up a major question of presidential immunity. In the past, the high court has required sitting presidents to cooperate with subpoenas and civil suits in the federal courts. Those rulings notwithstanding, Trump’s lawyers argue sitting presidents are immune from indictment and prosecution.
“The criminal prosecution of a sitting president violates [the Constitution]. ‘To wound the president by a criminal proceeding is to hamstring the operation of the whole governmental apparatus, both in foreign and domestic affairs,'” the president’s petition reads, quoting a 1973 Department of Justice memo.
That presumption is especially strong with state and local prosecutions, Trump argues. Such indictments threaten the balance of power between the federal government and the states, and potentially subjects an incumbent president to abuse from politically-motivated district attorneys.
“The practical threat that state criminal process poses to a president cannot be overstated,” the petition reads. “State and local prosecutors have massive incentives to target him with investigations and subpoenas to advance their careers, enhance their reelection prospects, or make a political statement. Unleashing all fifty states and thousands of local governments to conduct their own broad-ranging criminal investigations of a sitting president is unimaginable.”
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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