While the fist public impeachment hearing was absorbing public attention yesterday, another court ruled against Donald Trump on the disclosure of his financial records and taxes.
This time it was an en banc panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. CNN reports, Appeals court hands Trump another loss, saying Congress can seek his tax returns:
An appeals court has denied for the second time President Donald Trump’s attempt to stop an accounting firm from turning over his financial documents to the House, making it the second tax case Trump’s lawyers say they are taking to the Supreme Court.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said on Wednesday that a panel of eight judges out of 11 voted against allowing Trump to continue his appeal.
The decision is another loss stacked against Trump, after federal judges have repeatedly rebuked him and greenlighted the House’s effort as it also pursues his impeachment. The case, if Trump loses again with the Supreme Court, could deliver his tax returns or closely related financial documents into the hands of House Democrats.
The opinion reiterates the strong signal the court sent last month, when it upheld a lower court ruling that Trump’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA must comply with a House subpoena of his tax documents and turn over eight years of accounting records.
Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow said Wednesday that they will appeal the decision to Supreme Court, noting “well reasoned dissent” from three judges to Wednesday’s opinion.
Riiight. Two of the dissenters are recent Trump appointees who were only put on the bench to protect Trump.
Greg Katsas and Neomi Rao, both Trump appointees to the federal appellate bench, wrote that they disagreed with the vote and would have heard Trump’s arguments again.
Katsas, who served in the White House Counsel’s office before taking the bench, wrote that he wanted a larger panel of judges on the court to hear the case, which he said presents “exceptionally important questions regarding the separation of powers among Congress, the Executive Branch and the Judiciary.”
Rao, who also served in the Trump administration and also dissented from the three-judge panel’s opinion, charged that when the court allowed the subpoena to go forward it “shifted the balance of power between Congress and the President and allowed a congressional committee to circumvent the careful process of impeachment.”
She said that even though the House has subsequently authorized an impeachment inquiry, the committee in issuing the subpoena was not relying on impeachment power.
A third judge, Karen Henderson, appointed to the circuit by President George H.W. Bush, signed onto their reasoning.
No idea what her excuse is.
In a separate case, Trump faces a Thursday deadline to ask the Supreme Court to block a Manhattan grand jury subpoena for copies of his financial records and tax returns. His attorneys have previously said they intend to ask the Supreme Court to take up the New York case.
And in yet another new filing in a third case Wednesday night, Trump’s legal team asked a judge for a two-week buffer period if the US House asks for his tax returns through New York state. Congressional Democrats countered in that court filing that they’d like to write an argument this week responding to this request and have an in-person hearing before the judge makes a decision.
Courts have previously refused to curtail Congress’ subpoena power.
And it is doubtful that the courts are going to touch the separation of powers and the inherent authority of Congress to conduct investigations. The courts are likely to continue to enforce the subpoenas of Congress, under decades of precedents.
I would be surprised if the Supreme Court grants certiorari in the two cases Trump is appealing, based upon his unfounded — and soundly rejected — sweeping claim of “absolute immunity,” not just for himself, but for his business entities and associates.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision included a well-reasoned rejection of the Department of Justice memorandums that a sitting president cannot be charged or prosecuted, on which Trump rests his claim of “absolute immunity,” as did the original three judge panel opinion of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Does Trump really want to open the door to a final determination that the deeply flawed Department of Justice memorandums are not controlling or good law? It is the one thing that has kept him from being charged with crimes in the Southern District of New York. Seems like a risky move to me.