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Chief Justice Orders Delay in House Fight for Trump Records

November 18, 2019 by Dan McCue
Chief Justice John Roberts

WASHINGTON —  Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday imposed an indefinite delay in the House of Representatives’ demand for President Donald Trump’s financial records.

Roberts’ order Monday provides no hint about how the Supreme Court ultimately will resolve the dispute.

It was handed down just hours after the general counsel for the House of Representatives told the court that congressional investigators would agree to a 10-day pause in their effort to see President Donald Trump’s financial records.

Attorney Douglas Letter told the court the House opposes any lengthy delay in obtaining the records, but that 10 days would be enough time to allow all sides to file legal briefs on the matter.

In an emergency filing on Friday, lawyers for the president asked the justices to block the enforcement of a subpoena issued by a House committee to Trump’s accountants.

The request came after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a subpoena for Trump’s financial records issued by House Democrats to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars.

In the wake of that decision, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., the acting chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, said, “this is another victory for the fundamental principles of the rule of law and separation of powers.” 

“Congress has a constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the executive branch, and no one is above the law—not the President, and certainly not his private companies,” Maloney continued. “It has now been seven months since the Oversight Committee asked for these records. It is time for the President to let us do our job and stop blocking Mazars from complying with the Committee’s lawful subpoena.”

The subpoena at the center of the dispute came from the Oversight and Reform Committee, which wants to review Trump’s financial records as part of its investigation into the adequacy of current government ethics laws.

The president is seeking to bar Mazars from turning over the documents, arguing that the subpoena goes beyond Congress’ authority because it does not serve a legitimate legislative purpose.

The Supreme Court has a separate pending request from Trump to block a subpoena from a New York prosecutor for Trump’s tax returns.

On Thursday, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the president to provide New York prosecutors with his tax returns.

Trump’s requests went to Chief Justice John Roberts, who handles emergency requests from the D.C. Circuit. Roberts can act on the request alone, but he will almost certainly refer it to the full court.

As of early Monday afternoon, neither Roberts nor the court took any action on the requests.

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