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Three cases before the Supreme Court consider the ability of grand juries and congressional committees to subpoena the personal tax records of the President. In Trump v. Mazars USA and Trump v. Deutsche Bank, three House committees subpoenaed the President’s tax records. In Trump v. Vance, a local grand jury has subpoenaed these tax documents as well. There are several issues at play in determining if these subpoenas are valid.
Starting with the Congressional subpoenas, the President claims that these subpoenas are for information protected under the Right to Financial Privacy Act, which prohibits disclosure of a customer’s financial records to “any Government authority” without certain procedures the committees concede they did not follow; but the committees claim that they are not a “Government authority” under the meaning of the Act. Secondly, the President claims the Internal Revenue Code, which allows disclosure but only with procedural requirements the committees admit that they have not done. But the committees claim this requirement only applies if the bank acquired the tax documents from the IRS. Third, the President claims there is no legitimate legislative purpose to the subpoena which is required for such a legislative subpoena. The committees note that although that requirement exists, the scope of what is within a proper legislative purpose is very broad and met in this case.
The Supreme Court has also asked the parties to brief whether these congressional subpoenas are the kind of dispute between the branches that the court should avoid.
As to the local New York grand jury subpoena, the President claims that he is absolutely immune from all stages of state criminal process while in office, including pre-indictment investigation.
Devin Watkins of the Competitive Enterprise Institute will join us to discuss the results of the Supreme Court oral argument on these cases.
— Mr. Devin Watkins, Attorney, Competitive Enterprise Institute
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