SCOTUS to hear Trump cases questioning presidential immunity

Posted at 9:22 AM, May 11, 2020 and last updated 10:50 PM, July 6, 2023

By Court TV Staff

Should President Trump’s accountant hand over his financial records to state prosecutors for a criminal investigation? That’s one of the questions the Supreme Court of the United States will take up, testing the limits of presidential immunity.

President Donald Trump leaves the White House for a campaign trip to Battle Creek, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

On Tuesday, May 12, SCOTUS will hear two cases regarding President Trump. First up is Trump v. Mazars and Trump v. Deutsche Bank. The two cases are being consolidated together for a 1-hour argument.

The second case involves New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose office is investigating Trump and his associates. Vance’s office says it served Grand Jury subpoenas for records dating back to 2011 unrelated to Trump’s official acts as president. One went to The Trump Organization, seeking information about alleged hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and another alleged mistress.

Another subpoena went to the President’s accounting firm, Mazars USA.


Constitutional law attorney Joshua Matz says, “[President Trump] moved to quash the subpoena on the grounds that while he’s in office, he is completely immune from any kind of criminal process at the state level.”

A federal judge and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected President Trump’s claims.

Then, the Supreme Court of the United States granted Trump’s request to hear the case. “What’s at stake here is a pretty fundamental question about whether the President can be held accountable under the law during (their) time in office…The President argues that this is not just a case about him, but it’s actually a case about the presidency,” according to Matz.

Article II and the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution prohibits states from interfering with the Federal government’s activities. Matz says Trump “worries that presidents will not be able to lead the country and serve the nation if they’re vulnerable to criminal process in all 50 states across the nation.”

The New York D.A. cities the Watergate scandal as a precedent for serving subpoenas on presidents, and he points out that subpoenas in this particular case involve third parties, not Trump himself.

Matz explains, “According to the district attorney, what’s at stake here is the principle that nobody is above the law. And if the president and those around them committed crimes, the idea that they would be completely immune from any kind of state subpoena seems crazy, particularly when the subpoena has nothing to do with their official acts, doesn’t implicate any executive privilege, and has been served not on them, but on their accounting firm.”