High Court Refuses to Fast-Track Trump House Subpoena Cases (1)

July 20, 2020, 3:58 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to let House Democrats immediately renew their push to get President Donald Trump’s financial records, rejecting their requests to return two cases to the appeals court level ahead of schedule.

Lawmakers asked the justices to issue formal judgments without waiting the usual 25-plus days after their July 9 ruling, a step that would permit the appeals courts to begin their work sooner. Trump opposed the request for fast-track treatment.

The July 9 Supreme Court ruling ordered tougher lower court scrutiny of the House document demands.

The court gave no explanation. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she would have granted the requests.

House officials said they are running out of time to obtain and use the documents during the current Congress, which ends on Jan. 3. They argued that immediate Supreme Court action “would accelerate the proceedings in the lower courts so that the committees may obtain the materials necessary to undertake any needed legislative reforms as quickly as possible.”

Trump argued that immediate Supreme Court action “is unnecessary, unproductive, and would be inconsistent with this court’s opinion in these cases.”

Chief Justice John Roberts last week granted a similar request from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, clearing lower courts to move ahead in a separate clash over a grand jury subpoena for Trump’s records. But Trump had agreed to that request, and Roberts indicated his decision was based at least in part on the president’s consent.

Mixed Result

The July 9 rulings were a mixed bag for Trump. The court set aside two appeals court rulings that would have given House Democrats access to Trump’s financial records. The high court decision all but ensured that the public won’t see the president’s tax returns before the election. Unlike past presidents, Trump has refused to release his returns.

But the justices also rejected Trump’s contention that sitting presidents have an absolute shield against state grand jury subpoenas while in office. That cleared the way for Vance to pursue Trump’s tax returns and other financial records.

The 25-day period is designed at least in part to let the losing side ask the court to reconsider a ruling, something the justices almost never do. House lawyers told the court they don’t intend to take that step.

“There is therefore no reason to delay issuance of this court’s judgments,” they argued.

(Updates with excerpts from court filings starting in fourth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story:
Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net

Elizabeth Wasserman

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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