Friday, June 14, 2019

Trump to Justices: Put yourselves in my shoes!

Pursuing their monarchical presidency argument Donald Trump's lawyers - in their D.C. Circuit brief on appeal in the Mazars accounting subpoena case - make a sort of Golden Rule argument.  Looking ahead to the United States Supreme Court which will soon be confronted with deciding whether  Trump's accountants must heed a House Oversight Committee subpoena for his financial records.  Put yourselves in my shoes, say Trump's lawyers to the Justices who have exempted themselves from the Code of Conduct of United States Judges:

[A]lthough “Congress has directed Justices and judges to comply with both financial reporting requirements and limitations on the receipt of gifts and outside earned income” and the Justices comply with them, the Court has never decided “whether Congress may impose those requirements on the Supreme Court.” **. In short, “the limits of Congress’s power” in this area have “never been tested.” 
Yet replace “President” with “Justices” and the ruling below would, without question, authorize a congressional subpoena for the Justices’ accounting records— even for many years before they joined the Court. There would “be little doubt” that “Congress’s interest in the accuracy of the [Justices’] financial disclosures falls within the legislative sphere.” *** 
Whether they are “abiding by the Foreign Emoluments Clause is likewise a subject on which legislation … could be had.” ***. “So, too, is an investigation to determine whether [the Justices have] any conflicts of interest” (even though those laws do not currently apply to them), given that “exposing conflicts” and “shed[ding] light” are “entirely consistent with potential legislation in an area where Congress already has acted.” *** 
Finally, the subpoena would be “justified based on
Congress’s ‘informing function’” since, according to the district court, Congress has “sweeping authority to investigate illegal conduct of a [Justice] before and after taking office.” ***

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