Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, No. 19-715

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtCHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS delivered the opinion of the Court.
Citation207 L.Ed.2d 951,140 S.Ct. 2019
Parties Donald J. TRUMP, et al., Petitioners v. MAZARS USA, LLP, et al.; Donald J. Trump, et al., Petitioners v. Deutsche Bank AG, et al.
Decision Date09 July 2020
Docket NumberNo. 19-715, No. 19-760

140 S.Ct. 2019
207 L.Ed.2d 951

Donald J. TRUMP, et al., Petitioners
v.
MAZARS USA, LLP, et al.;

Donald J. Trump, et al., Petitioners
v.
Deutsche Bank AG, et al.

No. 19-715
No. 19-760

Supreme Court of the United States.

Argued May 12, 2020
Decided July 9, 2020*


Patrick Strawbridge, Boston, MA, for the petitioners.

Principal Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting the petitioners.

Douglas N. Letter, Washington, DC, for Committees of the U. S. House of Representatives respondents.

Douglas N. Letter, General Counsel, Todd B. Tatelman, Principal Deputy General Counsel, Megan Barbero, Deputy General Counsel, Josephine Morse, Deputy General Counsel, Brooks M. Hanner, Associate General Counsel, Adam A. Grogg, Associate General Counsel, Sarah E. Clouse, Associate General Counsel, Jonathan B. Schwartz, Attorney, U.S. House of Representatives, Office of General Counsel, Washington, DC, for respondent Committees of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Jay Alan Sekulow, Stuart J. Roth, Jordan Sekulow, Constitutional Litigation, and Advocacy Group, P.C., Washington, DC, Stefan C. Passantino, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Washington, DC, William S. Consovoy, Counsel of Record, Thomas R. McCarthy, Alexa R. Baltes, Jordan M. Call, Consovoy McCarthy PLLC, Arlington, VA, Patrick Strawbridge, Consovoy McCarthy PLLC, Boston, MA, for petitioners.

Lawrence S. Robbins, Roy T. Englert, Jr., Alan D. Strasser, Jennifer S. Windom, D. Hunter Smith, Brandon L. Arnold, Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber LLP, Douglas N. Letter, Todd B. Tatelman, Megan Barbero, Josephine Morse, Adam A. Grogg, Jonathan B. Schwartz, Office of General Counsel U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., for respondent Committees of the U.S. House of Representatives.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS delivered the opinion of the Court.

140 S.Ct. 2026

Over the course of five days in April 2019, three committees of the U. S. House of Representatives issued four subpoenas seeking information about the finances of President Donald J. Trump, his children, and affiliated businesses. We have held that the House has authority under the Constitution to issue subpoenas to assist it in carrying out its legislative responsibilities. The House asserts that the financial information sought here—encompassing a decade's worth of transactions by the President and his family—will help guide legislative reform in areas ranging from money laundering and terrorism to foreign involvement in U. S. elections. The President contends that the House lacked a valid legislative aim and instead sought these records to harass him, expose personal matters, and conduct law enforcement activities beyond its authority. The question presented is whether the subpoenas exceed the authority of the House under the Constitution.

We have never addressed a congressional subpoena for the President's information. Two hundred years ago, it was established that Presidents may be subpoenaed during a federal criminal proceeding, United States v. Burr , 25 F.Cas. 30 (No. 14,692d) (CC Va. 1807) (Marshall, Cir. J.), and earlier today we extended that ruling to state criminal proceedings, Trump v. Vance, ante , ––– U.S. at p. ––––, 140 S.Ct. at p. ––––. Nearly fifty years ago, we held that a federal prosecutor could obtain information from a President despite assertions of executive privilege, United States v. Nixon , 418 U.S. 683, 94 S.Ct. 3090, 41 L.Ed.2d 1039 (1974), and more recently we ruled that a private litigant could subject a President to a damages suit and appropriate discovery obligations in federal court, Clinton v. Jones , 520 U.S. 681, 117 S.Ct. 1636, 137 L.Ed.2d 945 (1997).

This case is different. Here the President's information is sought not by prosecutors or private parties in connection with a particular judicial proceeding, but by committees of Congress that have set forth broad legislative objectives. Congress and the President—the two political branches established by the Constitution—have an ongoing relationship that the Framers intended to feature both rivalry and reciprocity. See The Federalist No. 51, p. 349 (J. Cooke ed. 1961) (J. Madison); Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer , 343 U.S. 579, 635, 72 S.Ct. 863, 96 L.Ed. 1153 (1952) (Jackson, J., concurring). That distinctive aspect necessarily informs our analysis of the question before us.

I

A

Each of the three committees sought overlapping sets of financial documents,

140 S.Ct. 2027

but each supplied different justifications for the requests.

The House Committee on Financial Services issued two subpoenas, both on April 11, 2019. App. 128, 154, 226. The first, issued to Deutsche Bank, seeks the financial information of the President, his children, their immediate family members, and several affiliated business entities. Specifically, the subpoena seeks any document related to account activity, due diligence, foreign transactions, business statements, debt schedules, statements of net worth, tax returns, and suspicious activity identified by Deutsche Bank. The second, issued to Capital One, demands similar financial information with respect to more than a dozen business entities associated with the President. The Deutsche Bank subpoena requests materials from "2010 through the present," and the Capital One subpoena covers "2016 through the present," but both subpoenas impose no time limitations for certain documents, such as those connected to account openings and due diligence. Id., at 128, 155.

According to the House, the Financial Services Committee issued these subpoenas pursuant to House Resolution 206, which called for "efforts to close loopholes that allow corruption, terrorism, and money laundering to infiltrate our country's financial system." H. Res. 206, 116th Cong., 1st Sess., 5 (Mar. 13, 2019). Such loopholes, the resolution explained, had allowed "illicit money, including from Russian oligarchs," to flow into the United States through "anonymous shell companies" using investments such as "luxury high-end real estate." Id. , at 3. The House also invokes the oversight plan of the Financial Services Committee, which stated that the Committee intends to review banking regulation and "examine the implementation, effectiveness, and enforcement" of laws designed to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism. H. R. Rep. No. 116–40, p. 84 (2019). The plan further provided that the Committee would "consider proposals to prevent the abuse of the financial system" and "address any vulnerabilities identified" in the real estate market. Id. , at 85.

On the same day as the Financial Services Committee, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued an identical subpoena to Deutsche Bank—albeit for different reasons. According to the House, the Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Deutsche Bank as part of an investigation into foreign efforts to undermine the U. S. political process. Committee Chairman Adam Schiff had described that investigation in a previous statement, explaining that the Committee was examining alleged attempts by Russia to influence the 2016 election; potential links between Russia and the President's campaign; and whether the President and his associates had been compromised by foreign actors or interests. Press Release, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Chairman Schiff Statement on House Intelligence Committee Investigation (Feb. 6, 2019). Chairman Schiff added that the Committee planned "to develop legislation and policy reforms to ensure the U. S. government is better positioned to counter future efforts to undermine our political process and national security." Ibid.

Four days after the Financial Services and Intelligence Committees, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform issued another subpoena, this time to the President's personal accounting firm, Mazars USA, LLP. The subpoena demanded information related to the President and several affiliated business entities from 2011 through 2018, including statements of financial condition, independent auditors’ reports, financial reports, underlying source documents, and communications between

140 S.Ct. 2028

Mazars and the President or his businesses. The subpoena also requested all engagement agreements and contracts "[w]ithout regard to time." App. to Pet. for Cert. in 19–715, p. 230.

Chairman Elijah Cummings explained the basis for the subpoena in a memorandum to the Oversight Committee. According to the chairman, recent testimony by the President's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, along with several documents prepared by Mazars and supplied by Cohen, raised questions about whether the President had accurately represented his financial affairs. Chairman Cummings asserted that the Committee had "full authority to investigate" whether the President: (1) "may have engaged in illegal conduct before and during his tenure in office," (2) "has undisclosed conflicts of interest that may impair his ability to make impartial policy decisions," (3) "is complying with the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution," and (4) "has accurately reported his finances to the Office of Government Ethics and other federal entities." App. in No. 19–5142 (CADC), p. 107. "The Committee's...

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54 practice notes
  • N.Y. State Telecomms. Ass'n v. James, 2:21-cv-2389 (DRH) (AKT)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • June 11, 2021
    ...action," Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG, 943 F.3d 627, 637 (2d Cir. 2019), rev'd on other grounds sub nom., Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, 140 S.Ct. 2019, 207 L.Ed.2d 951 (2020), and the ABA is the product of New York State's legislative process, see Able v. UnitedPage 7 States, 44 F.3d 128, 131 (2d ......
  • Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. Trump, No. 18-474-cv
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • August 17, 2020
    ...interest of the man’ is often ‘connected with the constitutional rights of the place.’ " Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP , ––– U.S. ––––, 140 S. Ct. 2019, 2034, ––– L.Ed.2d –––– (2020) (quoting The Federalist No. 51). The court's authority to issue injunctive relief in this case presents a difficu......
  • Maloney v. Murphy, No. 18-5305
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 29, 2020
    ...U.S. 135, 174, 47 S.Ct. 319, 71 L.Ed. 580 (1927), as was reconfirmed earlier this very year in Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP , ––– U.S. ––––, 140 S. Ct. 2019, 2031, 207 L.Ed.2d 951 (2020) : "[E]ach House has power to secure needed information in order to legislate," which power is "justified sol......
  • Comm. on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives v. McGahn, No. 19-5331
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • August 31, 2020
    ...each House has power to secure needed information’ through the subpoena power." Id. (quoting Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP , ––– U.S. ––––, 140 S. Ct. 2019, 2031, ––– L.Ed.2d –––– (2020) ) (internal quotation marks omitted). "That constitutional power entitles each House to the testimony of a wi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
45 cases
  • N.Y. State Telecomms. Ass'n v. James, 2:21-cv-2389 (DRH) (AKT)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • June 11, 2021
    ...action," Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG, 943 F.3d 627, 637 (2d Cir. 2019), rev'd on other grounds sub nom., Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, 140 S.Ct. 2019, 207 L.Ed.2d 951 (2020), and the ABA is the product of New York State's legislative process, see Able v. UnitedPage 7 States, 44 F.3d 128, 131 (2d ......
  • Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. Trump, No. 18-474-cv
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • August 17, 2020
    ...interest of the man’ is often ‘connected with the constitutional rights of the place.’ " Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP , ––– U.S. ––––, 140 S. Ct. 2019, 2034, ––– L.Ed.2d –––– (2020) (quoting The Federalist No. 51). The court's authority to issue injunctive relief in this case presents a difficu......
  • Maloney v. Murphy, No. 18-5305
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 29, 2020
    ...U.S. 135, 174, 47 S.Ct. 319, 71 L.Ed. 580 (1927), as was reconfirmed earlier this very year in Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP , ––– U.S. ––––, 140 S. Ct. 2019, 2031, 207 L.Ed.2d 951 (2020) : "[E]ach House has power to secure needed information in order to legislate," which power is "justified sol......
  • Comm. on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives v. McGahn, No. 19-5331
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • August 31, 2020
    ...each House has power to secure needed information’ through the subpoena power." Id. (quoting Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP , ––– U.S. ––––, 140 S. Ct. 2019, 2031, ––– L.Ed.2d –––– (2020) ) (internal quotation marks omitted). "That constitutional power entitles each House to the testimony of a wi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 books & journal articles
  • ADMINISTRATIVE SABOTAGE.
    • United States
    • Michigan Law Review Vol. 120 Nbr. 5, March 2022
    • March 1, 2022
    ...Common Legis. Encroachments on Exec. Branch Auth., 13 Op. O.L.C. 248, 248 (1989) (William P. Barr). (401.) See Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, 140 S. Ct. 2019, 2031 (2020) ("[L]ongstanding practice '"is a consideration of great weight' " in cases concerning 'the allocation of power between [the] ......
  • Originalism: Can Theory and Supreme Court Practice Be Reconciled?
    • United States
    • The Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy Nbr. 19-1, January 2021
    • January 1, 2021
    ...Secret Drafting History, 91 GEO. L.J. 1113, 1115 (2003). 29. Id. at 1115. 30. Id. at 1114–15. 31. Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, 140 S.Ct. 2019, 2046 (2020); Kisor v. Wilkie, 139 S. Ct. 2400, 2438 (2019); Lucia v. SEC, 138 S. Ct. 2044, 2056 (2018); Jesner v. Arab Bank, 138 S. Ct. 1386, 1417 (201......
  • Challenges to the Independence of Inspectors General in Robust Congressional Oversight
    • United States
    • The Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy Nbr. 19-1, January 2021
    • January 1, 2021
    ...oversight with all the attendant complexities.11 This article furthers a project of 5. See infra Sec. I. 6. See Trump v. Mazars, 140 S.Ct. 2019, 2031 (2020) (“Congress has no enumerated constitutional power to conduct investigations . . . but we have held that each House has power ‘to secur......
  • Nixon/trump: Strategies of Judicial Aggrandizement
    • United States
    • Georgetown Law Journal Nbr. 110-1, October 2021
    • October 1, 2021
    ...took much the same 1. 140 S. Ct. 2412 (2020). 2. Id. at 2431 (citing United States v. Burr, 25 F. Cas. 30, 34 (C.C.D. Va. 1807)). 3. 140 S. Ct. 2019 (2020). 4. Id. at 2033–34 (quoting THE FEDERALIST NO. 51, at 349 (James Madison) (Jacob E. Cooke ed., 1961)). 5. See id. at 2031–32 (quoting Q......
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