WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday, Nov. 18, gave itself a little more time to decide whether a House committee gets to see President Donald Trump's financial records.
Chief Justice John Roberts put on hold "until further order" a lower court's ruling that said the accounting firm Mazars USA must turn over eight years of personal and business financial records to the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
The House itself had acquiesced to such a move earlier on Monday. Without the court's intervention, the firm would have been required to turn over the records on Wednesday.
Trump last week asked the high court to stop the order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The president's lawyer William Consovoy told the Supreme Court that under the lower court's decision, "any committee of Congress can subpoena any personal information from the president; all the committee needs to say is that it's considering legislation that would force presidents to disclose that same information."
House General Counsel Douglas Letter said in a letter to the court Monday morning that the committee will oppose Trump's motion. But "out of courtesy to this court," Letter said the committee did not oppose putting the D.C. Circuit's ruling on hold temporarily.
Roberts said in his short order that the House's opposition to Trump's filing should be filed by Thursday.
The case is one of two at the Supreme Court in which Trump is fighting to keep his financial records and tax returns secret. He has also asked the court to review a ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit that said roughly the same materials must be turned over to state prosecutors in New York.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has said his office is investigating whether state laws were broken by alleged hush-money payments during Trump's 2016 campaign to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress, and to former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both say they had affairs with Trump; he has denied the affairs and any wrongdoing.
A panel of the appeals court ruled unanimously that Mazars should turn over the records, and that the president has no power to prevent such investigations.
It added that "the past six presidents, dating back to President (Jimmy) Carter, all voluntarily released their tax returns to the public. While we do not place dispositive weight on this fact, it reinforces our conclusion that the disclosure of personal financial information, standing alone, is unlikely to impair the president in performing the duties of his office."
Vance has agreed not to try to enforce the order while the Supreme Court decides whether to review the ruling. The prosecutor has until Dec. 18 to file his brief with the court.
The justices are not under any obligation to review either court decision. But the president's pleas to intervene and his argument that the decisions raise important, perhaps historic, separation of powers questions seem to make such a review a strong possibility.
This article was written by Robert Barnes, a reporter for The Washington Post.