Rule of Law

RELEASE: CAC Reacts to Rulings in Trump Financial Records Cases

In New York DA Case, Court Reaffirms Important Principle that President Is Not Above the Law, but the Court Nonetheless May Have Given President Trump De Facto Win in Congressional Subpoena Case.

WASHINGTON – On news that the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decisions in Trump v. Vance, and Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, ruling that a New York grand jury may gain access to President Trump’s financial records, while Congress may not—at least any time soon—gain similar access, CAC President Elizabeth Wydra issued the following statement:

In Vance, the Court reaffirmed that the President is not above the law and has to cooperate with state criminal proceedings. That is an important victory. 

In Mazars, however, the Court threatens to hand the President a de facto win by refusing to fully resolve the case itself and instead sending it back to the lower courts to consider factors it could have considered itself in the first instance. In so doing, the Court may have abetted this President in running out the clock on constitutional accountability. 

To be clear, these cases deal with President Trump’s financial records that are held by third parties, not the President himself. They concern the question of whether investigating bodies like congressional committees and state grand juries can access the information they need to make decisions critical to their functions.  

President Trump doesn’t have to do anything here. Nothing is being asked of him at all. His accounting firms hold the records at issue in these cases and yet, with respect to Congress, President Trump has successfully gotten the Court to block those records from being shared with relevant congressional committees for the time being. 

The Court may try to dress up today’s ruling in Mazars as sober, even-handed judging, but everyone knows this ruling is a punt, one that threatens to hand a significant practical victory to the President. 

Now the only way to prevent the President from successfully running out the clock is for the D.C. Circuit to issue a new decision as expeditiously as possible making clear that these materials should be handed over to Congress. If that court fails to do so, it will be at the expense of the rule of law and our Constitution’s checks and balances—and ultimately, at the expense of the American people.  

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Resources:

CAC brief in Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP: https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/trump-v-mazars-usa-llp/

CAC brief on behalf of former Department of Justice officials in Trump v. Vance: https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/trump-v-vance/

CAC ALERT (Video): Oral Arguments in Mazars/Deutsche Bank/Vance, Ashwin Phatak, May 12, 2020: https://www.theusconstitution.org/blog/cac-alert-oral-arguments-in-mazars-deutsche-bank-vance/ 

“The Supreme Court Is About to Decide Whether or Not to Place Donald Trump Above the Law,” Ashwin Phatak, May 11, 2020: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/05/supreme-court-mazars-vance-trump-above-the-law.html 

“Mazars and Vance may be political blockbusters, but they aren’t legal ones,” Brianne Gorod and Ashwin Phatak, SCOTUSblog, March 10, 2020: https://www.scotusblog.com/2020/03/symposium-mazars-and-vance-may-be-political-blockbusters-but-they-arent-legal-ones/ 

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Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit CAC’s website at www.theusconstitution.org.

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