Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has temporarily staved off the efforts of House Democrats to get their hands on President Donald Trump’s financial records.
On Friday, Ginsburg issued a stay, meaning that Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp. do not have to comply just yet with an order from the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said the banks must give House Democrats the records they have subpoenaed, according to the New York Post.
“It is the interest of two congressional committees, functioning under the authority of a resolution of the House of Representatives authorizing the subpoenas at issue, to obtain information on enforcement of anti-money-laundering/counter-financing of terrorism laws, terrorist financing, the movement of illicit funds through the global financial system including the real estate market, the scope of the Russian government’s operations to influence the U.S. political process, and whether the Lead Plaintiff was vulnerable to foreign exploitation,” the three-judge panel had written in ordering access be granted, according to The Hill.
Ginsburg, who in the past has made no secret of her disdain for Trump’s policies, was involved in the case because she is the justice who is assigned to handle emergency appeals from cases in the Second Circuit, according to The New York Times.
Ginsburg’s action is designed to give the full Supreme Court time to consider the arguments from Trump’s lawyers that House Democrats should be denied access to the records they are seeking. It does not mean that Trump has won his battle to keep his financial records private.
The lawsuit is between Trump and the banks, not Trump and Congress.
House Democrats want the records in hopes of finding connections between Trump and foreign governments or other material that can be used in the ongoing impeachment inquiry against Trump.
Trump’s lawyers have said the court should shut down what amounts to a political fishing expedition, according to NBC News.
“The Committees’ desire to use the President, his family, and his businesses as a case study is not a ‘legitimate legislative purpose,’” Trump’s lawyers argued in seeking Supreme Court intervention.
“It is an attempt to exercise executive power beyond Congress’s legislative reach and to expose Applicants’ private records ‘for the sake of exposure,’” court papers said.
The issue is “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 to third parties with no incentive to test their validity,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.
Trump also filed an appeal to block the House Oversight Committee from getting financial records from Mazars LLP, Trump’s accounting firm.
The Supreme Court last month granted Trump a win in that case by putting enforcement of the House subpoena to Mazars on hold while Trump appeals lower court rulings saying the records have to be shared with the House, according to CNBC.
“This is a case of firsts,” Trump’s lawyers have said in court documents seeking to block access to the records, according to The New York Times.
“It is the first time that Congress has subpoenaed personal records of a sitting president. It is the first time that Congress has issued a subpoena, under the guise of its legislative powers, to investigate the president for illegal conduct. And, it is the first time a court has upheld any congressional subpoena for any sitting president’s records of any kind,” a petition to the Supreme Court asking the justices to rule on the case said.
The petition filed by Trump’s lawyers argued that if Trump loses this case, “Congress can subpoena any private records it wishes from the president on the mere assertion that it is considering legislation that might require presidents to disclose that same information. Given the obvious temptation to investigate the personal affairs of political rivals, subpoenas concerning the private lives of presidents will become routine in times of divided government.”
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