Ruth Bader Ginsburg Puts Temporary Hold on Trump Financial Records Subpoena

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday put a temporary administrative hold on a lower court ruling that ordered two banks that have done business with President Donald Trump—Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp—to release Trump’s financial documents to House Democrats.

Her decision comes after Trump’s legal team filed an emergency request to the Supreme Court to issue a hold on the lower court’s decision. The temporary hold will enable Trump’s legal team to have time to argue for the Supreme Court to conduct a full review of the case.

“[T]he issue at this stage is straightforward: whether the President will be allowed to petition for review of an unprecedented demand for his personal papers, or whether he will be deprived of that opportunity because the Committees issued these subpoenas to third parties with no incentive to test their validity,” Trump’s legal team said in their request to Ginsburg on Friday. “This choice should be easy.”

The House Financial Services and House Intelligence committees had issued subpoenas in April to Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp, asking them to turn over documents related to Trump’s financial records concerning him, his children, and his company.

Trump then sued the two banks in April in efforts to stop them from complying with the subpoenas, arguing that the House subpoenas were unlawful and unconstitutional. But in May, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that subpoenas have “a legitimate legislative purpose” and could be enforced.

Ramos’ ruling prompted Trump to file an appeal in August to the Supreme Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. But the court ruled on Dec. 3 that the banks must comply with the subpoenas.

Ginsburg, who is Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and Circuit Justice for the Second Circuit, said on Friday that the lower court ruling is now on hold until December 13, and directed the House committees to respond to Trump’s legal arguments by December 11.

“Upon consideration of the application of counsel for the applicants, it is ordered that the mandate of the United States Supreme Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Case No. 19-1540, issued December 3, 2019, is hereby recalled and stayed until 5 p.m. on December 13, 2019. It is further ordered that a response be filed on or before December 11, 2019 by 11 a.m,” Ginsburg wrote in her order.

Trump’s legal team in their Friday request to Ginsburg had argued that the subpoenas “do not fall within the [House committees’] constitutional or statutory authority.”

“The Court should grant this application to recall and stay the mandate. The Court concluded that a stay is warranted in Mazars and, as House Counsel correctly explained to the Second Circuit, ‘Mazars involves the same legal issues presented here,’” Trump’s legal team wrote.

Mazars refers to Trump’s accounting firm. In a separate case, Trump had appealed to the Supreme Court earlier in the week to block the release of his financial records related to Mazars to House Democrats. An appeals court in Washington had ruled against Trump in October concerning this case.

Trump’s legal team argued in the appeal that if the nation’s highest court allows a lower court ruling to stand, it will set a dangerous precedent for future presidents.

“Under the D.C. Circuit’s decision, Congress can subpoena any private records it wishes from the President on the mere assertion that it is considering legislation that might require presidents to disclose that same information,” they wrote. They also argued that Congress doesn’t have the constitutional authority to obtain private financial records because the subpoena lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.

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Author: Mimi Nguyen Ly

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