Paul L. Caron

Thursday, November 7, 2019

NY Times: Trump Tax Return Case Confronts Supreme Court With A Momentous Choice

New York Times, Trump Tax Return Case Confronts Supreme Court With a Momentous Choice:

Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton sustained unanimous losses when they sought to withhold evidence, suggesting that President Trump may face an uphill fight.

In a matter of days, President Trump will ask the Supreme Court to rule on his bold claim that he is absolutely immune from criminal investigation while he remains in office. If the court agrees to hear the case, its decision is likely to produce a major statement on the limits of presidential power — and to test the independence of the court itself.

Mr. Trump has been the subject of countless investigations and lawsuits since he took office, including a 22-month inquiry by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel appointed to look into his campaign’s ties to Russia. But the new case, concerning an investigation by Manhattan prosecutors into hush-money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump, will be the Supreme Court’s first chance to consider the president’s arguments that he is beyond the reach of the justice system.

The case concerns a subpoena to Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, from the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat. On Monday, the federal appeals court in Manhattan rejected Mr. Trump’s request to block the subpoena, which seeks eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns.

The appeals court’s ruling was narrow and modest, hewing closely to the circumstances of the dispute before it. If the Supreme Court adopted the lower court’s reasoning, it would answer only the question of whether state prosecutors may require third parties to turn over a sitting president’s financial records for use in a grand jury investigation.

But such a ruling, rejecting a sweeping claim of immunity, would nonetheless be a once-in-a-generation reckoning with whether and how presidents can be investigated. ...

Read together, the two decisions — United States v. Nixon in 1974 and Clinton v. Jones in 1997 — suggest that Mr. Trump will face an uphill fight in winning his argument that he is entitled to complete immunity from criminal process of any kind so long as he is in office, said David A. Strauss, a law professor at the University of Chicago. ...

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have said that their case is different, calling the subpoena “a bad-faith effort to harass the president by obtaining and exposing his confidential financial information, not a legitimate attempt to enforce New York law.”

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No person is above the law!

Posted by: Gianfranco A. Pietrafesa | Nov 7, 2019 9:20:36 AM