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The Supreme Court has put on hold enforcement of a congressional subpoena for President Trump’s accounting firm until the court gets a chance to decide whether to take up the case. The Supreme Court gave President Trump until Dec. 5 to ask it to consider taking up the case involving the House subpoena of the Mazars accounting firm. This is a procedural move, not terribly surprising, and reasonable under the circumstances. As Tierney Sneed points out, this could mean we have a Supreme Court decision on it this term.
The more potentially consequential decision came from a federal district judge in Washington, D.C., who found absolutely no absolute immunity exists for high level executive branch officials under congressional subpoena. DOJ is already planning to appeal, and the Supreme Court may eventually weigh in, so this first go at the case will not be the final word. But it was a loud word. The judge blasted OLC precedent on executive branch power, thrashed the Justice Department’s position as ahistorical, and generally gave as sweeping a constitutional rejection of Trump’s maximal assertion of executive power as could be rendered in the case.
I’d love to get excited about the district court ruling because it articulates a robust role for the legislative and executive branches in holding the executive branch to account. Hear, hear! But there’s a long way to go legally before this matter is resolved, and the conservative Supreme Court is unlikely to take as tempered a view of the scope of executive power.