The Justice Department has argued in a filing to the U.S. Supreme Court that congressional and state subpoenas for President Donald Trump’s tax returns and financial records is unconstitutional.
In a pair of amicus briefs filed Monday, Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued that the Constitution and the separation of powers protects presidents from any process that might risk “impairing the independence of his office or interfering with the performance of its functions.”
Francisco argued further that when Democrat-led House committees and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office attempted to gain access to the president’s financial records, the actions posed a “serious risk” of harassing the president and distracting him from his constitutional duties, The Epoch Times reported.
The cases have reached the U.S. Supreme Court after appeals courts upheld three cases stemming from lower court rulings ordering Trump’s accounting firm Mazars USA and two banks to comply with subpoenas issued by the House and the Manhattan DA, the latter of whom is conducting a grand jury investigation.
Two cases stem from subpoenas issued last year by three House committees — Financial Services, Intelligence, and Government Oversight — allegedly as part of an investigation into the president’s financial dealings before he was elected.
The third case deals with a criminal probe in Manhattan.
Supreme Court justices are being asked to consider whether the Constitution permits the Legislative Branch to issue subpoenas to third parties for financial records of the head of the Executive Branch.
In addition, justices will decide whether a state grand jury has the authority to issue a subpoena to third parties for financial records of a sitting president.
Francisco argues that the Constitution doesn’t permit these acts.
“Article II provides an immunity from any process that would risk impairing the independence of his office or interfering with the performance of its functions,” he wrote.
“That risk is particularly palpable when the President’s political adversaries control one or both chambers of Congress. For that reason, the Framers deliberately sought to insulate the President from congressional interference in particular,” the solicitor general continued.
He added that the House has failed to meet the “heightened requirements” for seeking information from the president.
“The four reasons offered in support of the Mazars subpoena betray an impermissible law enforcement objective, and the boilerplate statement that the subpoena furthers ‘multiple laws and legislative proposals’ is far too vague to enable, much less withstand, meaningful scrutiny of its legitimacy,” he wrote.
“Likewise, the Deutsche Bank and Capital One subpoenas seek information that is not demonstrably critical to any legitimate legislative purpose. One committee’s investigation was into closing loopholes in money laundering laws, the other’s into foreign interference in elections,” Francisco noted further.
“That two committees issued carbon-copy subpoenas for markedly divergent purposes strongly suggests that neither is the true purpose,” he said.
“llowing state grand-jury subpoenas for the President’s personal records thus opens the door for communities to use such subpoenas to register their disapproval of the President’s policies.”