House tells Supreme Court Congress has the authority to subpoena Trump's financial records
Posted November 21, 2019 3:06 p.m. EST
CNN — House Democrats are well within their authority to subpoena President Donald Trump's financial papers, House lawyers told the Supreme Court on Thursday.
As soon as Friday, the justices could decide whether to allow a subpoena to Trump's long time accounting firm to go forward, while they consider whether to take up the president's appeal in the case.
The documents include eight years of financial records from both before and during his presidency.
Lower courts have sided against the President, who made the emergency appeal to the Supreme Court to block the release of the records.
Thursday, House General Counsel Douglas Letter said in a court filing that Congress has broad investigative power.
"This Court has long recognized that Congress's power to conduct oversight and investigations -- a power of inquiry, with process to enforce it -- is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function," Letter argued.
Letter said the subpoena seeking "financial documents and records from the longtime accountant of" Trump is necessary to "shed light on the accuracy of President Trump's disclosures, and thereby to inform the Committee's oversight of the Executive Branch and its consideration of remedial legislation."
In the filing, Letter said that if the court does delay the release of the documents, the justices should put the case on a fast track so that the it can be heard this term.
Already, the justices are reviewing a similar case concerning a subpoena from a Manhattan District Attorney seeking Trump's tax returns.
The two cases before the justices mark the last stop for Trump who has worked for years to shield his financial papers and hopes the conservative leaning Supreme Court, including two of his own nominees, will side with him.
On Thursday Trump suggested in a tweet that he wants to release some type of financial documents on his own terms. He did not specify which documents would be released, when or how.
"when I release my financial statement (my decision) sometime prior to Election, it will only show one thing - that I am much richer than people even thought - And that is a good thing," the tweet stated.
The House case arises from a subpoena issued by the House Oversight committee last April to Trump's longtime accounting firm for financial documents concerning the President and his companies for the years both before and during his presidency. The committee's investigation entails, among other subjects, whether the President had undisclosed conflicts of interest.
Last week, a federal appeals court ruled against the President and said the subpoena could be enforced as early as Wednesday. After that order, Trump's personal lawyers rushed to the Supreme Court asking the justices to freeze Wednesday's deadline in order to give the President more time to appeal the ruling.
"Given the temptation to dig up dirt on political rivals, intrusive subpoenas into personal lives of presidents will become our new normal in times of divided government -- no matter which party is in power," Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for the President, argued in court papers. "If every committee chairman is going to have this unbounded authority, this Court should be the one to say so."
The court responded by issuing a temporary hold on the subpoena to give the justices enough time to order more briefs in the case. No documents will be released until the further notice from the court.