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Trump asks justices to block bank subpoenas (UPDATED)

UPDATED: Shortly after 6 p.m., Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put the 2nd Circuit’s ruling on hold until next Friday, December 13, at 5 p.m. Ginsburg’s order gives the justices time to rule on Trump’s request for a longer stay of the lower court’s decision while he files a petition for review. Ginsburg ordered the House of Representatives to file a response to Trump’s request by 11 a.m. on Wednesday, December 11. 

Yesterday President Donald Trump filed a petition at the Supreme Court asking the justices to quash a subpoena to Mazars, his longtime accounting firm, for his financial records. The case is Trump’s second request in less than a month for the court’s help in his battle to shield his financial records and tax documents. At their private conference next week, the justices are scheduled to consider Trump’s petition for review of a lower-court ruling that would require him to turn over tax records to Manhattan’s district attorney, who is seeking them as part of a grand-jury investigation. This afternoon Trump added a third filing, this time asking the justices to block a lower-court ruling that upheld subpoenas for Trump’s financial records to Deutsche Bank, which has long been Trump’s biggest lender, and Capital One.

Trump went to court after the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Capital One, seeking to block the subpoenas on the ground that they go beyond the committees’ powers. But on Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit largely upheld the subpoenas and ordered the banks to begin providing the documents by December 10.

Today Trump came to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to put the 2nd Circuit’s ruling on hold to give his lawyers time to file a petition for review of the decision. Trump complained that the committees had issued “dragnet” and “extraordinarily broad” subpoenas that do not serve the kind of “legitimate legislative purpose” that the Supreme Court has said is necessary. Instead, Trump wrote, the subpoenas are merely “an attempt to exercise executive power beyond Congress’s legislative reach and to expose” Trump’s “private records for the sake of exposure.” The questions before the Supreme Court, Trump concluded, are both significant and “straightforward”: “whether the President will be allowed to petition for review of an unprecedented demand for his personal papers, or whether he will be deprived of that opportunity because the Committees issued these subpoenas with no incentive to test their validity.”

Stressing the similarities between this case and the Mazars case, Trump urged the justices to follow their ruling in that case and put the 2nd Circuit’s decision on hold immediately (known as an “administrative stay”) until they can rule on his application for a stay, and then keep it on hold until he can file his petition for review. Without a stay, Trump warned, the banks will likely hand over the records, “irrevocably destroying” his “legal right to keep them confidential.”

Trump put the blame for today’s filing squarely on the House of Representatives. He explained to the justices that, as in the case involving the Manhattan district attorney, Trump had offered to file a petition for review quickly in exchange for an agreement to delay the enforcement of the subpoenas. However, Trump told the justices, the House declined his offer – even though the court had already put the enforcement of the subpoena in the Mazars case on hold. “Regrettably,” Trump concluded, it became necessary for him “to file another emergency application to keep [his] claims from being mooted.”

Trump’s request will go first to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is responsible for emergency appeals from the 2nd Circuit. Ginsburg can either act on the application herself or (as is more likely) refer it to the full court.

This post was originally published at Howe on the Court.

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Trump asks justices to block bank subpoenas (UPDATED), SCOTUSblog (Dec. 6, 2019, 5:14 PM),