By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday temporarily put on hold a lower court ruling that would require President Donald Trump’s accounting firm to hand over some of his financial records to a Democratic-led House of Representatives committee.
The order issued by Chief Justice John Roberts does not indicate whether the court ultimately plans to hear Trump’s appeal, filed on Friday, of the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It merely puts the litigation on hold while the nine justices decide how to proceed. The hold remains in effect until the court acts.
The case represents an important showdown pitting the powers of the presidency against the authority of Congress, with Trump fighting doggedly to keep details of this finances private even as he faces an impeachment inquiry in the House.
Trump turned to the justices after the D.C. Circuit decided last week that it would not revisit its October decision backing the House Oversight Committee’s authority to subpoena the records from Mazars LLP, Trump’s longtime accounting firm.
Earlier on Monday, the committee said it would not oppose a 10-day delay in enforcing the subpoena, but would not favor a longer delay sought by the Republican president.
Trump’s lawyers had asked the justices for at least a temporary hold on the enforcement of the subpoena. They also want the matter to be put on hold for a longer period while the litigation is resolved.
If the Supreme Court declines to hear Trump’s appeal, the documents would have to be handed over to lawmakers. Five votes among the justices are needed to grant a stay request. The court has a 5-4 conservative majority.
In a separate case, Trump last Thursday asked the Supreme Court to review a New York-based federal appeals court’s ruling that local prosecutors can enforce a subpoena also issued to Mazars demanding Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns from 2011 to 2018.
The House committee subpoenaed Mazars this year, saying it needed the records to determine if Trump complied with laws requiring disclosure of his assets, and to assess whether those laws needed to be changed.
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