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Supreme Court arguments

Washington The Supreme Court is continuing to hold oral arguments via teleconference due to the coronavirus pandemic. And in a historic first, it’s also allowing oral arguments to be aired live to the public.


Supreme Court debates Trump’s ability to keep financial information and taxes secret

Here’s what to know for Tuesday’s cases:

First case: Donald J. Trump et al v. Mazars, Donald J. Trump v. Deutsche Bank

Significance: Momentous cases concerning the separation of powers, which goes to the heart of Congress’ power to investigate. President Donald Trump’s private lawyers are asking the Supreme Court to block House subpoenas to the President’s accounting firm and banks for years of financial records.

The House argues it seeks the records from Mazars USA, Deutsche Bank, and Capital One for the legitimate purpose of investigating whether Congress should amend federal conflict-of-interest and financial disclosure laws, as well as laws regulating banks. Lawyers for the House stress that the subpoenas are directed at third parties, not the President, and that the documents are unrelated to his official duties.

Trump argues there is no valid legislative purpose for the documents, and instead the House is engaged in a fishing expedition to see if he broke the law. The Justice Department sides with Trump, stressing that when it comes to the President, Congress has to reach a higher bar before sending the subpoenas. It says the subpoenas are invalid because the committee did not issue a clear statement outlining its legislative purpose. Lower courts have sided with Congress.

Participants: Trump attorney Patrick Strawbridge; Principal Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall; Douglas Letter, general counsel of the US House of Representatives.

Second case: Donald J. Trump v. Cyrus Vance

Time: Immediately following Trump v. Mazars; approximately 11 a.m. ET.

Significance: The case concerns Trump’s broad claims of immunity, in a dispute arising from a New York prosecutor’s subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm for his tax returns and other financial documents.

The subpoena seeks records dating from 2011 to the present day concerning transactions unrelated to any official acts of the President. One issue raised was related to alleged “hush money” paid on behalf of Trump to two women with whom he was allegedly having affairs. Trump has denied having affairs with the women. Trump’s personal lawyers sued in federal court to block the subpoenas, claiming he has immunity from such criminal proceedings while in office.

The Justice Department sides with Trump, but on more narrow grounds. A federal appeals court ruled against the President, sidestepping some of his more expansive claims.

Participants: Trump attorney Jay A. Sekulow; Solicitor General Noel Francisco; Carey R. Dunne, general counsel, New York County District Attorney’s Office.

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