US Supreme Court puts hold on Trump’s financial records ruling

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2019 (Xinhua) — U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before leaving the White House in Washington D.C., the United States, on Oct. 10, 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he hopes to mediate between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds, and also threatened to punish Turkey if its offensive in northeast Syria goes beyond limits. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua/IANS)

Washington, Nov 19 (IANS) US Chief Justice John Roberts said that the Supreme Court has issued a temporary stay of a federal appeals court ruling that granted a House committee access to eight years of President Donald Trump’s financial records from his accounting firm.

The ruling was set to go into effect on Wednesday. The subpoena from the House Oversight and Reform Committee will be unenforceable while the Supreme Court decides whether to take up the case, Xinhua news agency reported.

The House panel said on Monday in a letter to the Supreme Court that it would agree to the temporary stay to allow the justices to weigh in.

Trump’s legal team on Friday asked the Supreme Court to put a hold on the panel’s subpoena, arguing that if the lower court rulings are allowed to stand, any committee of Congress could subpoena any personal information it wants from a president.

“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,” the lawyers said.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee issued the subpoena in April, requesting Mazars USA, the president’s accounting firm, to provide his financial records between 2011 and 2018. The committee said it acted after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had testified that “Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”

A US federal appeals court ruled against Trump’s appeal earlier last week, upholding an earlier ruling that affirmed Congress’ investigative authority to seek the president’s financial records.

In a separate case, Trump’s legal team also asked the Supreme Court last week to block a subpoena issued by the New York County District Attorney demanding his accounting firm to turn over eight years of his tax returns to Manhattan prosecutors.

The Supreme Court, which now has five conservatives and four liberals, could decide to consider the two cases together. It’s unclear whether the Supreme Court will take up Trump’s appeal and there is no deadline for the court to act, according to local media reports.

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