By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday gave President Donald Trump a boost by extending its hold on a lower court ruling that required his longtime accounting firm to hand over his financial records to a Democratic-led House of Representatives committee.
The unsigned order will remain in effect until after the Supreme Court decides whether to hear Trump’s appeal of the lower court ruling that directed Mazars LLP, Trump’s longtime accounting firm, to comply with the subpoena for the records.
Trump has until Dec. 5 to file his appeal. The action by the justices suggests that there is a good chance they will take up Trump’s appeal in his fight with the House Oversight Committee but does not guarantee it.
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 appealed to the Supreme Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Nov. 13 rejected his request that the appeals court reconsider its ruling the previous month in favor of the committee.
In a separate case, Trump on Nov. 14 asked the Supreme Court to her his appeal of another lower court ruling that directed Mazars to provide local prosecutors in New York Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns from 2011 to 2018 as part of a criminal investigation.
The Republican president’s lawyers have called the House committee’s subpoena to Mazars LLP illegitimate. The appeals court ruling, if left intact, would bring Democrats closer to gaining insight on Trump’s business interests and personal wealth.
The fight over Trump’s financial records is part of a larger struggle between the president and the Democrats who control the House and have launched numerous investigations – including an impeachment inquiry – into his conduct and various actions by his administration.
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.
It is not clear exactly what records the committee has requested but, according to Trump’s lawyers, it did not specifically ask for Trump’s tax returns.
The court has a 5-4 conservative majority that includes two Trump appointees: Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Both Trump cases are likely to be on a fast track, meaning that if the court decides to hear them, rulings would be due before the end of June, when the court’s current term concludes.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)