Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie everyone. So I got some tea and it’s on the Supreme Court to hear arguments on Donald Trump’s Tax Returns.
The Supreme Court Tuesday began considering whether President Trump can shield his income tax returns from disclosure and keep his private financial records from congressional committees and a New York prosecutor. According to The Washington Post;
The court is hearing three landmark constitutional cases by conference call because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, making it possible for the public to listen to the justices questions in real time.
All three cases involve Trump’s efforts to prevent his longtime accounting firm and two banks from handing over his tax and business records to Democratic led House committees and the Manhattan district attorney. The timing of the hearings means the high court’s rulings will probably land in the summer in the midst of the 2020 presidential election campaign.
The president’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, and the financial institutions are not represented in the hearings. They have said they will abide by legal decisions and release the information if so ordered.
The Justice Department is defending Trump in his official capacity, but it has not fully embraced the sweeping arguments of the president’s private attorneys that Trump is temporarily immune from any criminal investigation as long as he is in office.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. pressed Solicitor General Noel Francisco about the difference between the two arguments.
“What’s wrong with Trump’s position?” Roberts asked.
Francisco urged the justices to avoid dealing with the question of immunity and instead find that local prosecutors must meet a heightened standard and demonstrate a specific need when it comes to targeting the chief executive with a subpoena.
The local prosecutor “has to show he really needs the documents,” Francisco said, adding that the “D.A. hasn’t tried to meet that standard.”
Trump’s private attorney, Jay Sekulow, emphasized that the president is temporarily immune from investigation while he is in the White House and urged the court to invalidate the New York grand jury subpoena.
If the court upholds the Manhattan district attorney’s subpoena, it “weaponizes 2,300 local district attorneys” throughout the country to “harass, distract and interfere” with a sitting president, said Sekulow, who was Trump’s lead attorney during the Senate impeachment trial.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked why the president’s argument allows the grand jury to continue to investigate but not use a subpoena, its most effective, traditional device. Roberts noted the court in 1997 unanimously required President Bill Clinton to respond to a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former Arkansas state employee, Paula Jones.
“I would have thought the discovery in a case like Clinton v. Jones would be similarly distracting,” Roberts said.
Justice Neil M. Gorsuch raised similar concerns, asking Sekulow, “How is this more burdensome than what took place in Clinton v. Jones?” Gorsuch noted that in the Jones case, the president was deposed while he was in office.