Attorneys representing President Trump asked the Supreme Court to shield his tax and business records from investigators on Tuesday, arguing in a pair of high-profile cases that subpoenas from Congress and state authorities should be quashed given his responsibilities as head of the executive branch.
The court heard oral arguments in the cases over teleconference as justices continue to work remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. The disputes focus on requests for documents from Mr. Trump’s accounting firm and several financial institutions as part of investigations by three Houses committees and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance into the president’s business dealings.
During the first round of questioning on Tuesday, the president’s personal attorney and a lawyer for the Justice Department, which is backing the president, asserted that the congressional subpoenas served no legislative purpose and were therefore invalid. They warned that upholding the subpoenas from the House committees would effectively give Congress the green light to investigate the private lives of their political opponents.
“I think it is very hard to imagine that that House is ever going to have the power … to subpoena the records of the president,” Patrick Strawbridge, appearing on behalf of the president, said in response to a question from Chief Justice John Roberts. “The House has limited powers to regulate the presidency itself,” he added.
Strawbridge asserted in questioning from Justice Brett Kavanaugh that the Congressional subpoenas were meant not to aid in lawmaking, but serve as a “dragnet” to uncover alleged wrongdoing of the president. Jeffrey Wall, principal deputy solicitor general, agreed, saying the subpoenas “don’t match up with what the committees say they’re doing.”