In a potentially historic test of the U.S. Supreme Court and the limits of presidential power, President Trump’s lawyers have asked the court to stop a prosecutor’s investigation of his personal finances, The Washington Post reports. The case also marks a new phase in the investigations that have dogged Trump throughout his presidency and have culminated in an impeachment inquiry.
The case involves Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s attempt to enforce a grand jury subpoena issued to the president’s accountants for eight years of Trump’s tax records. Trump went to court to block the subpoena, making a broad claim that U.S. presidents are immune from investigation while in office. A district judge and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled against him, saying that the subpoena was proper and that the president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, must comply. Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s lawyers, said, “Politically motivated subpoenas like this one are a perfect illustration of why a sitting president should be categorically immune from state criminal process.” Vance has said his office needs the records for its investigation into alleged hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress, and to former Playboy model Karen McDougal. The justices are not required to review the lower court’s decision. But the chances that the high court will get involved increased Wednesday when a separate appeals court in a separate case concluded that Congress has a right to the same tax records. Trump’s lawyers plan to ask the Supreme Court on Friday for a stay in that case.