Trump v. Vance
Whether a state grand-jury subpoena of the President’s personal financial records from a third-party custodian violates either Article II or the Supremacy Clause?Advocates
- Jay Alan Sekulow, for the petitioner
- Noel J. Francisco, for the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting reversal
- Carey R. Dunne, for the respondent
Trump v. Vance involves a grand jury subpoena issued by the District Attorney for the Southern District of New York served on Mazars USA seeking various financial documents and tax records related to President Trump and his affiliates. The investigation arose from reports of possible criminal misconduct connected to the Trump Organization that may have occurred in New York County over the last ten years. As part of the investigation, the District Attorney subpoenaed Trump’s tax records, kept by Mazars. To ease the burden of producing the requested documents, the District Attorney used the same language in its office’s subpoena for the same materials issued in an unconnected investigation by the House of Representatives. Additionally, the District Attorney limited the request to materials involving Trump’s unofficial conduct before he took office. When Mazars indicated that it would comply with the request, President Trump filed for injunctive relief, arguing that the President possesses absolute immunity from state criminal process. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled against the President.
In this case, as in its tandem case, the focus was on how the Court’s precedents should be applied, if at all, and here all the justices, except perhaps for Justice Thomas, seemingly recognizing that balancing the competing interests was the appropriate methodology to follow. The President’s Counsel, Mr. Sekulow, argued for “temporary presidential immunity” even though the Court had unanimously rejected such immunity in Clinton v. Jones on pre-presidential matters. Solicitor General Francisco insisted that the District Attorney have “special needs” for the requested documents, and both he and Mr. Sekulow stressed the fact that there were 2,300 state prosecutors who had to be prevented from being able to harass a president with subpoenas for political purposes. This latter argument ran into trouble because the case was actually litigated in federal court, and both the justices and the advocates seemed satisfied that the case was appropriately in federal court and, indeed, always would end up there whenever subpoenas issued by state authorities were challenged in federal court.Trump v. Vance on Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/cases/2019/19-635