Trump asks Supreme Court to protect his tax returns - setting up constitutional showdown

President is first since 1976 not to make them public

Andrew Buncombe
Thursday 14 November 2019 18:21
Donald Trump 'will never release tax returns' claims White House official Mick Mulvaney

Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to shield his tax returns from prosecutors, setting up what is likely to be a showdown between different elements of the government.

A week after a federal appeals court ruled against the president and said he must hand the financial information to prosecutors in New York, his legal team made an approach to the nation’s highest bench.

In the filing, his lawyers argued that as president, he was immune from criminal investigation while he remained in office.

“For the first time in our nation’s history, a state or local prosecutor has launched a criminal investigation of the president of the United States and subjected him to coercive criminal process,” the filing said.

“Every time a president has asked the court to review an unprecedented use of legal process against the occupant of the office, it has done so.”

Mr Trump took his argument to the Supreme Court after the appeals court on Wednesday declined a request to rehear arguments that a subpoena to his accountants, Mazars LLP, was illegitimate.

The subpoena from Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, is seeking Mr Trump’s tax returns back to 2011 from his accounting firm as part of a criminal investigation.

Mr Trump wants the court to decide the case by late June, under a deal to keep the district attorney from enforcing the subpoena in the meantime. The justices may not decide whether to hear the case for at least another month.

Kellyanne Conway says President Trump will not release his tax returns

A second, similar case is headed to the court over a House committee subpoena demanding the president’s financial records from the same accounting firm. The president has lost both cases at each step of the judicial system so far.

Mr Trump has long insisted he was unable to release his returns because he was being audited by the internal revenue service, something experts say would not prevent someone from making them available to the public.

By declining to do so, he became the first president since 1976 not to release his returns, quelling speculation he has something troubling to hide about his finances, or even his sources of funding.

The president has also sought to protect his financial records from being handed to the House committee on oversight and reform, subpoenaed records from Mazars in April. They include documents from 2011 to 2018 that the House wants for investigation into the president’s reporting of his finances and potential conflicts of interest.

At the time, the president’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said Democrats will “never” see the president’s tax returns. Asked by Fox News when Democrats would he handed them he replied: “Never. Nor should they.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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