WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States Supreme Court on Thursday will decide whether democratically led congressional committees and a New York City prosecutor can get hold of President Donald Trump’s financial records, including his tax returns, which he has been trying to keep secret.
FILE PHOTO: US President Donald Trump pauses as he picks up his first reelection campaign for several months in the midst of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, June 20, 2020 REUTERS / Leah Millis / File Photo
The Supreme Court will issue final rulings for its current term, which began in October last year. They include three cases that focus on Trump processes designed to block third-party lawsuits – not the Republican president himself – from handing over his financial records. The judges are expected shortly after 10am EDT (1400 GMT).
Unlike other recent presidents, Trump has refused to release his tax returns and other documents that could provide details about his wealth and his family business, the Trump Organization. The content of these records has remained a persistent mystery even as he seeks re-election on November 3. The judges represent another milestone in Trump’s tumultuous presidency.
Two of the cases involve lawsuits issued by House of Representatives committees seeking Trump’s financial records from his longtime accounting firm Mazars LLP and two banks, Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) and Capital One (COF.N).
The third involves lawsuits issued to Mazars for financial records including nearly a decade of Trump’s tax returns to be handed to a grand jury in New York as part of a criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.
The investigation that Vance’s office opened in 2018 regarding Trump and the Trump organization was fueled by disclosures of household payments to two women who said they had previous sexual relations with him, pornographic actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Trump and his aides have denied the situation.
In court disputes over the House vote, Trump argued that Congress lacked a valid purpose for seeking his records and that disclosing the material would jeopardize his and his family’s integrity and distract him from his duties.
In the New York case, Trump’s lawyers claimed that he was immune from any criminal procedure while he was president. They also cited the Justice Department’s guidance that a sitting president cannot be prosecuted or prosecuted.
In a lower court, Trump’s lawyers went so far as to claim that law enforcement agencies would not have the power to investigate Trump even if he shot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue.
The House Monitoring Committee in April 2019 issued a lawsuit to Mazars seeking eight years of accounting and other financial information in response to congressional testimony from Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney. Cohen said Trump had inflated and lost some assets on financial reports between 2011 and 2013 in part to lower his property tax.
The House Financial Services Committee has looked into possible money laundering in US real estate deals involving Trump. In a separate investigation, the House intelligence committee is investigating whether Trump’s business left him vulnerable to foreign individuals or governments.[For a graphic on major cases before the Supreme Court, click tmsnrt.rs/2mZn6MJ]
Reporting by Jan Wolfe and Lawrence Hurley in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham