Judge Sets June Hearing in Trump’s Effort to Keep Tax Returns Private From House Democrats

March 4, 2021 Updated: March 4, 2021

A federal judge on Thursday set a hearing date to allow attorneys to present oral arguments over whether former President Donald Trump’s financial records should be handed over to the House Oversight Committee.

This comes after attorneys for each party in the case informed U.S District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amit Mehta that the Democrat-controlled House panel had reissued a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm Mazars USA to hand over eight years of financial records involving the former president and his businesses.

Following a hearing on Thursday, Mehta set dates for legal briefs and a June 18 hearing date for oral arguments. The case now is likely to focus on whether a Supreme Court legal test that required the lower courts to “perform a careful analysis” on separation of powers issues would still apply now that Trump is no longer in office.

During the hearing, Mehta asked the parties whether the Supreme Court ruling from 2020 was still relevant, according to the Washington Examiner. Trump lawyers argued that the separation of powers issues remain, while House lawyers say a lower standard for the subpoena enforcement should now be applied since Trump is no longer president.

The case could possibly return to the Supreme Court for another review now that circumstances have changed.

Trump’s lawyers did not respond to The Epoch Times’ previous request to comment on the subpoena.

The case went through months of litigation before it arrived at the Supreme Court in 2020. It was combined with a separate case in which Trump was challenging a different subpoena issued by the Financial Services and Intelligence committees seeking financial records from two of his banks.

In both cases, the district courts denied his requests to block the subpoenas, and the decisions were upheld on appeal. Trump then asked the Supreme Court to review the cases.

The high court in July 2020 sent the pair of cases back to lower courts for another review because those courts hadn’t taken into account the “special concerns regarding the separation of powers.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion, said the lower courts should “perform a careful analysis that takes adequate account of the separation of powers principles at stake, including both the significant legislative interests of Congress and the ‘unique position’ of the President.”

House Democrats in the committee have been seeking Trump’s financial records since April 2019. Trump went to the federal court to challenge the original subpoena to block its enforcement shortly after it was issued. That subpoena expired in January when new lawmakers took office.

In reissuing the subpoena, Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a memo on Feb. 23 that the committee during the 117th Congress will continue targeting Trump for its investigation into alleged presidential conflicts of interest. She said that his financial documents are crucial to “verify key facts and tailor legislative reforms to be as effective and efficient as possible.”

“Donald Trump’s unprecedented actions as President—including his refusal to divest from his ‘complex and opaque financial holdings’—have laid bare several apparent weaknesses and gaps in the laws and regulations governing presidential financial disclosure, conflicts of interest, and emoluments,” Maloney wrote.

Trump has repeatedly called the investigations seeking his financial records a continuation of a political “witch hunt,” while his lawyers and former Solicitor General Noel Francisco have raised questions in court about whether there are any legitimate legislative purposes for issuing the subpoenas. Instead, the lawyers said the House sought the records to harass the president, “expose personal matters, and conduct law enforcement activities beyond its authority.”

In a separate case, the Supreme Court ruled that it would not block the release of Trump’s financial records requested by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. The documents have since been handed over to Vance’s office. The prosecutor had sought the documents as part of a grand jury probe.

It was widely believed that Vance was investigating hush money paid to two women during the 2016 presidential campaign: adult film performer Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. But court filings suggest that the scope of the Manhattan DA’s probe might be broader than what was previously known.

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan