All concern Trump’s long-running legal fight to shield years of income tax returns from public view and keep his private financial records from the hands of Democratic-led House committees and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
The court’s decisions will carry major implications for the limits of presidential power and accountability, and could affect the fall election.
Two of the cases, Trump v. Mazars and Trump v. Deutsche Bank, concern the attempts of three House committees to bypass the president to obtain his financial records from his longtime accounting firm and financial institutions. The committees say they are needed to check the president’s financial disclosures and inform whether conflict-of-interest laws are tough enough.
In Trump v. Vance, the president is attempting to stop subpoenas from a grand jury Vance is supervising. He is looking into whether corporate records were altered in violation of state laws to cover up hush-money payments. He, too, is seeking the information from a third-party.
The cases are similar in that they are seeking much the same information. Included are Trump’s tax returns, which every president since Jimmy Carter has made public but Trump has steadfastly guarded.
But they also seek much more. The congressional committees “demand information about seven business entities, as well as the personal accounts of President Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump,” said the brief filed by the president’s private lawyers, Jay Sekulow and William S. Consovoy.
The congressional subpoenas followed testimony from Trump’s former fixer, attorney Michael Cohen, who told lawmakers that Trump had exaggerated his wealth to seek loans. Two committees subpoenaed Capital One and Deutsche Bank as part of their investigation into Russian money laundering and potential foreign influence involving Trump.
Federal judges in New York and Washington, D.C. — at the district court and appeals court levels — moved swiftly by court standards and repeatedly ruled against Trump and to uphold Congress’s broad investigative powers.
In Washington, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in October rejected Trump’s assertion that Congress’s subpoena was an unconstitutional attempt to harass the president that lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose.”
The appeals court upheld a ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta, who wrote, “It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct — past or present — even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York substantially agreed in saying Vance’s subpoena was valid.