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tv   Supreme Court Oral Argument on Congressional Subpoenas for President...  CSPAN  July 9, 2020 10:14pm-11:54pm EDT

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>> today, the supreme court ruled on two cases dealing with president trump finances. manhattan's district attorney could obtain the financial and business records including tax returns as part of an investigation into alleged misconduct by the trump organization. the trump -- the case involving congress's authority to subpoena third-party companies for access to the president's financial records. that ruling was also 7-2. next, the case that was sent back to the lower court. this is just over 1.5 hours.
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>> the first case that we will argue stay is down from versus the usa. >> mr. chief justice, the subpoenas at issue here are unprecedented in every sense. no court hadcases, ever upheld the use of congress passed subpoena power. had toittee of congress
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the records of a sitting president with a broad swath of the president's personal papers to the let alone purpose of the -- a potential legislation. there is a reason this is the first time a set -- has attempted such a gambit. because, grist has subpoena power, it is subordinate and when that power is deployed against the president, it must yield absent any long-standing tradition or compelling showing of need. the committee's consent is neither condition and that should decide this case. the committees contend the subpoenas satisfy the limits this court has always applied to congressional subpoenas. but the arguments would render those limits meaningless. but the arguments would render those limits meaningless . they claim congress can you subpoenas to uncover individual wrongdoing simply because that will always informed the efficiency of existing laws and they challenge this court's ability to question the constitutionality of the potential legislation they rely upon. the committee's obvious overreaches sufficient to invalidate these subpoenas even in a typical case. but the courts in which is not proceed against the president as
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it does against an ordinary individual. the committees have not even try to show any critical legislative need for the documents these subpoenas seek. it is no secret the relationship between the house represented on the president is frayed but this is new to the first or last time one house of congress will be at all's with the president. the rule the court applies here will affect this president but the presidency itself. the court should deny the committees blank check they seek. >> mr. strawbridge, i want to make sure i understand the scope of your argument. your brief begins by questioning whether the house has any power to subpoena presidential records but you seem, at the end of the brief, to pull back from that. you say such subpoenas " press the outer limits of congress" and that there is every reason to doubt whether subpoenaing the
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personal documents of the president is a necessary incident of lawmaking. do you concede any power in the house to subpoena personal papers of the president? >> i think it is hard to imagine that the house is ever going to have the power pursuant to its legislative powers to subpoena the records of the president. quite frankly, the house has limited powers to regulate the presidency itself. i think it's very difficult to imagine a situation where it's implied power -- >> that's another formulation for what i was just focusing on, difficult to imagine a reason to doubt, in other words, is your position, does it recognize in a particular case that the congress, the house may have such authority and that in such a case it would be for the courts to decide whether it has exceeded any bounds in that situation? >> the minimum this court should
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apply a standard in other cases when there is an attempt to serve process that targets the president. >> ok, you say there is some power in the house and you think there is a high standard. i understand the house to concede there is some limit to its authority. it sounds like, at the end of the day, this is another case where the courts are balancing the competing interests on either side. is that the wrong way to look at it? >> i don't think we are asking this court to do anything different than it has done in an ordinary case. we are noting that the restraints on the power of congress emphasized in this case because this is a separation of powers dispute. >> thank you, counsel. justice thomas? justice thomas?
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justice ginsburg. >> council, in so many of these prior cases, it. was a cooperation for example tax returns. it gets to be a pitched battle because president trump is the first one to refuse to do that. initially, he said because an audit was ongoing and out seems to be broader than that. the aura of this case is really sauce for the goose that serves the gander as well. how do you distinguish whitewater when president clinton's personal records were subpoenaed from his accountant or even hillary clinton's law firm billing records were subpoenaed. in prior cases, you say this one
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is one-of-a-kind but it seems in prior cases it was a much greater collision of interests. how do you distinguish all of those cases, watergate, whitewater, the paula jones case? >> your honor, we distinct them in a number of ways. with respect to watergate and whitewater, obviously, those are cases of realist -- of relative recent vintage and his separation of powers dispute, this court has generally looked back for a much longer precedent for that type of issue that needs to be decided with
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examples of the encroachment on the and separation of powers. the recent examples are just a handful of them that the house identifies art to recent under that stricture is the court recognized in southwest general. it's important to note that in all of those cases, they actually involved cooperative efforts. as the court recognized below, consent is not the major of constitutionality. none of those were challenged to the scope and power of the legislative committee to request those documents. >> thank you, counsel. justice thomas. >> thank you, chief. counsel, i'm very interested. do you think there were any implied powers for the congress to request or to subpoena private documents? >> i think there might be limited powers in some cases for the house to subpoena private documents although the court has been clear in watkins and another of other cases that congress lacked any power to just inquire.
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>> can you define what you mean by that limited power? >> we don't quarrel with the general notion that congress has some implied power to exercise its legislative powers. we recognize that in some cases, congress has been able to seek information that would be directly relevant to its consideration of potential legislation. recognized -- the view of forward-looking information is aggregated information and not attempt to reassemble a precise factual history. >> in the d.c. circuit judge open you in, it says this sort of information or subpoena should be requested under the impeachment power. what is the line between the legislative subpoena and an impeachment related subpoena? >> in kilborn, this court recognized there were two very different powers and when impeachment his properly pending, the ability to subpoena pursuant to impeachment is
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coextensive with the courts. the court subpoenas are not unlimited but that has no bearing on this dispute because the party -- the committees have waived any reliance on impeachment nor could they. these committees don't have jurisdiction over impeachment. >> justice breyer? >> i would like to follow-up on the previous questions. are you saying that sam ervin's subpoenas which were done on the legislative power at the time of watergate, which was fairly broad, are you saying they were unlawful, that the court should not enforce them, yes or no? as to justice ginsburg's question, i would like to know why, since in watergate and other cases, watergate particularly, the court gave contested material involving the very workings of the presidential office to the prosecutor. why isn't whatever standard applies to personal papers a weaker one, not a stronger one? >> if i can answer the last
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question first -- i think the court cannot refuse to see what others see to quote bromley and the threat in this case of subpoenaing a decades worth of papers not only of the president but his family members, his children and grandchildren as the house has done in this case. that's an obvious problem with the -- with harassment and discharging duties 24 hours a day. the president is never in recess and these type of subpoenas are
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going to be particularly troublesome and burdensome. >> are you saying that whatever it is, why wouldn't whatever standard applies to personal papers before the presidency be equal to or weaker than the standard for material that is the workings of the administration at the time? >> setting aside any executive privilege concerns which i understand is not the focus of your question, this court has repeatedly emphasized in kilborn and watkins and everywhere else that congress has power to inquire into the private affairs of any individual. that is distinct from whatever interest they may have informing themselves about the workings of government. that informing power does not extend to the president. that
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informing power does not extend to the president branch officials. >> are you saying that the ervin committee subpoenas were unlawful yes or no? >> we do not argue that or address the power of impeachment because it's not an issue in this case. >> it wasn't impeachment. >> justice alito? >> counsel, are there any circumstances in which a house of congress can justify a subpoena for a sitting president's personal records on the ground that it wants to use the president as a case study for possible, broad regulatory legislation? >> i think it's difficult to imagine for a couple of reasons. even setting aside the fact that if the president, this court has always required some showing that the information being
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sought is pertinent. i think the swath and the scope of the subpoenas issued here creates serious problems even in an ordinary case. to directly answer the question,no, the president purple -- personal papers are not related to anything to the working of government and for the committee to declare him a useful case study is to open the door to all sorts of presidential requests. you could have subpoenas seeking all of jimmy carter's financial history simply because he used to be a peanut farmer and they want to case study in agriculture. you could have all sorts of requests for medical records, educational records, any imaginable detail personal records good congress has the general power to legislate in lots of areas. >> before my time expires, i can ask you one other question -- i think you said congress has limited power to regulate the conduct of a president. does congress have any power to regulate the conduct of the president which is in office that is created by the constitution itself and not by congress? >> the answer is not very much. they apply avoidance principles to avoid having to decide whether congress has attempted
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to reach the president. the one example in recent history is the nexen versus general administrative services case. even in that case, it was a very limited right regarding presidential documents. one could imagine may be some hypothetical where there would be limited personal papers that might be relevant to a question regarding custody of official documents. but even in that case, the constitutionality of that was not seeking the president's personal papers and that control remains in the executive branch. >> justice sotomayor? >> council, there is a long history of congress seeking records and getting them as justice ginsburg pointed out from presidents. and some of those cases, we have said, especially eastland, that a congressional subpoena is valid so long as there is a conceivable legislative purpose and the records are relevant to that purpose. i see a tremendous separation of powers problem when you are
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talking about placing a heightened standard or a clear statement, the various formulations of this, on an investigation that a committee when you are talking about placing a heightened standard or a clear statement, the various formulations of this, on an investigation that a committee is embarking upon. i understand your complaint about the financial services subpoena on the money laundering issue. but are disputing that the stated purpose of the intelligence committee subpoena at issue, investigation efforts by foreign entities to influence the u.s. political process, and related to the financial records of that, that those were irrelevant to that purpose and that's an illegitimate purpose by the investigative committee, the intelligence committee? >> taking the relevance question first, yes, even if you accept
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that there is some legitimate legislation that could be had reached the president because what we are seeking is presidential appliances, when you look at -- >> pardon, sir. not presidential finances, we are asking for his personal tax returns before he became president. those are very different things. and we are not asking him to produce it. some of the subpoenas as far back as 1792 have asked for personal papers of the president while being president. this is before he was president. i don't understand. and they are not his papers in the sense of he's not in possession of them. these are subpoenas to private entities. >> there are a number of issues there. with respect to the custodian issue, this court going back to eastland, has recognize the
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ability of a person whose records are in the hands of a third party to challenge them and that's certainly the case here. >> those papers have to do with executive privilege questions. they are not personal papers. all those cases have to do with papers that belong to the office of the president. again, these are personal papers. >> briefly, counsel? >> eastland did not raise that issue. it was personal papers. the main point i would make his -- is whatever presumption this court has previously applied in cases that involve separation of powers, it should not put a finger on the scale for congresses legislative power in this case. indeed, in numerous separation powers cases, the court has declined any presumption that congress had a legitimate power and that.
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>> justice kagan? >> this is not the first conflict between congress and the president as many of my colleagues have pointed out. we have never had to address this issue and the reason is because congress and the president have reached accommodations with each other and sometimes one has got more and sometimes the other has gotten more. but there has always been this accommodation seeking. what it seems to me what you are asking us to do is to put the kind of 10 ton weight on the scales between the president and congress. and essentially, to make it impossible for congress to perform oversight and carry out its functions where the president is concerned. and you're quite right and what you said before that this is not going to be the last such case. i wonder whether that fact is not a good reason to reject your proposed rule. >> i don't think that's the case
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and for several reasons. one, the fact that this is the first time that congress has attempted to subpoena this scale and scope of documents from the president. none of the other historical cases involved a direct subpoena for the presence documents the way this one does. it requires this court to draw a line. it's unfortunate the house did not seek to get these documents directly from the president but to third-party custodians. it limits the number of defenses the president can bring but even on the test, this court has always applied in the scenario, these subpoenas fail every hallmark of a legitimate legislative investigation. >> go ahead. >> whatever power congress has to conduct oversight of lower branch agencies or to inform itself as to the workings of government, these document's not relevant to that than that power
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does not extend to the president who is a separate constitutionally created officer. >> i think some former presidents might contest the idea that these subpoenas go than has ever gone before and this brings me back to what justice breyer has said. these subpoenas are for personal records where the president is just a man. they are not for official records where the president might have executive privilege where we have to worry about the conduct of governance and the way the executive branch operates. and as with justice breyer, i guess i would like to hear your views on why that wouldn't suggest there is a lower standard here, not a higher one. >> i guess because the fact that they seek personal documents doesn't mean they are not targeting the president and the oversight committee and the financial -- the house intelligence committee have identified the president in his role as president as one of the motivating factors for their investigation.
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secondly, as this court noted a broader immunity argument, there are still a need to ensure the president is not going to face undue harassment or distraction and there is a necessity to accommodate him. we think that's best accommodated in this case by applying the demonstrated needs standard. >> justice gorsuch? >> i would like to pick up where you left off. you argue that there is no demonstrated need or substantial legislative purpose. i'm sure we will hear the house that there is substantial legislative need. why should we not defer to the house about its own legislative purposes? >> for several reasons. to begin, the subpoena power is an implied power and this court made that clear recently. congress cannot use its implied powers to challenge the structure of government. a subpoena targeting the
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president's personal documents is a challenge to the president personal powers. the court did not apply that because it was a battle between the branches as justice scalia pointed out in his opinion. there's simply no need for a presumption on either side whatever might normally apply to --an ordinary individual because the president has own powers creed by the constitution. this happened in a number of cases. the court has recognized that we do not proceed against the president as we do against an ordinary litigant. whether that was in cheney or the limiting obstruction -- >> my question was more practical than that. why is this subpoena supported by a substantial legislative need? >> three answers -- congress is
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not really identified with any specificity what actual valid legislation it would enact that directly reaches the president. even if it had come it has not identified how these documents going upwards of 10 years or unlimited and seeking the most minute financial details about him and his children and his grandchildren, every credit card swipe every check, has anything , to do with some purpose that would actually be permissible legislation. i think any allowance of that rationale that the house has relied upon with the financial services committee is a door that opens to endless subpoenas and harassment any one party controls one house of congress opposite from the president. >> thank you, counsel. justice kavanaugh? >> thank you, chief justice. nixonr argument that the
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needs standards supplied or demonstrably critical standard, explain for me how that would play out in practice in a case like this. >> in a case where congress is asserting its desire to enact general legislation, i think it will be very difficult. i don't hold out the possibility they could meet the demonstrated need. i don't completely rule out that possibility but i think it is telling that the house devoted all of one sentence to each of these subpoenas, attempting to assert very broadly that they meet the demonstrated need criteria. if there is some situation where congress actually had put forth a statute for which they needed some information to decide whether to enact a statute, the statute was valid and for some president's personal papers were necessary to inform congress and perhaps in that case, they could meet the demonstrated need statute. i can't imagine that these
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subpoenas could come close as they reach back far. these are very specific questions about whether they're willing to expose a ledge of wrongdoing as opposed to achieving a valid legislative end. >> following up on justice kagan's point about the future, on page six of your supplemental letter brief, you say " it is likely civil litigation over the subpoenas would have been foreclosed at the committee issued them to the president." you say this case is different the subpoenas were issued to a third-party custodian and there is an implicit assumption that i want to make sure of, namely that absent a court order, the private custodians plan to comply with subpoenas even if the client directs or request them not to comply, is that correct? >> the recipients of these subpoenas have indicated they consider to be a dispute between the president and the house of representatives and absent some sort of court order regarding its validity, they feel obligated to comply.
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this court need to recognize that is just not reasonable to expect, in the situation, a third-party custodian to risk contempt of congress or other collateral consequences. there needs to be a vehicle to allow for review especially in this case where the presidents personal injury is at risk. >> thank you, counsel. >> mr. chief justice and may it please the court, these cases are truly historic. three different congressional committees have targeted, not the official records of the president, but his personal records stretching back years before he was even a candidate for office. the potential to harass and president and the presidency is plain. it's not much to ask that before the house delves into the presidents personal life, it explain in some meaningful way what laws it is considering and why it needs the presidents
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-- president's documents in particular. the subpoenas here don't even come close. that creates two problems for the house. it can't satisfy any standard sensitive to article two in the separation of powers and indeed, this court should not decide a serious constitutional question the full house itself is not confronted. counsel, you spent a lot of time in your brief documenting that the purpose of these subpoenas was actually investigatory rather than legislative. if that is a pertinent consideration, i wonder how the court is supposed to look at it. should a court be probing the processes ofntal the legislators? should members of house committees be subject to cross-examination on why they were really seeking these documents? >> no, i don't think any of that would be permissible. if all we are saying is that you
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should review the subpoena on the basis of the contemporaneous objective record that is the basis for the legislative subpoenas themselves. we have not, in our brief, turned to legislator statements and have not said they should get discovery into their mental processes. we have said that the chairman's memo shows the objective purpose but i would point to the mismatch between the breadth and the duration of the subpoenas and their asserted purposes. with respect to all three, they don't match up with what the committees say they are doing if you look at the information they are seeking. >> thank you, counsel. justice thomas? wall, what if following up on the chief justice's question, what if it was clear from those statements you reviewed that their intention was actually to remove the president from office rather
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than the sort of pretextual reason that it is for pretextual legislative reasons? >> i do think if you look at the statement, yes, i think it made clear the subpoenas are not in aid of valid legislation. that is the only enumerated power to which congress is pointed here. the house has not relied on impeachment so you would say the subpoenas are invalid. we are not asking to go back and look at what they said. i'm saying if you look at pages 46 and 54 of the red brief and you look at what they actually say about their intended legislative proposal and why they need the documents, the paper says they don't give you any specifics on what they were thinking about doing or any specifics on why they need the documents. it is not an accident. it's not the product of
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carelessness or flawlessness, it is because the purpose here is to expose wrongdoing in the -- wrongdoing, and the house has never really tried to substantiate why it needs these documents in service of its legislative powers. >> thank you. >> justice ginsburg? >> one must investigate before legislation. the purpose of investigation is to frame the legislation. you don't have the legislation in mind. you want to explore what is the problem, what legislative change and reduce or eliminate the problem. for example, the ethics in government act, congress may decide that it needs to beef up that legislation. it may also decide that, for financial disclosure purposes, there should be disclosure of tax returns. so, those are legislative
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purposes, investigate to see if you need legislation of that sort and then to impugn congress's motive and even the police man on the beat, if he stops a car and gives a reason that the car went through a stop sign, you don't allow an investigation into what the subjective motive really was. so here you are distrusting congress more than the cop on the beat. >> i absolutely agree that congress can investigate in service of what legislation might be needed. much moresion is modest that when the legislation, when the inquiry involves the president, that you need a somewhat higher standard with respect to purpose because the room for regulating the president is so much narrower with respect to private parties.
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on the needs side because of the , dangers of harassing and distracting and undermining the president and that is a common theme that runs through the court cases that the president has some measure of protection because you cannot proceed against the president as against an ordinary litigant. i'm saying congress is not met -- has not met that standard here. >> how did that work out in the paula jones case? >> justice breyer? >> assume, as i do, that for reasons set out in an opinion by judge griffiths, we are not very good courts at deciding disputes between two powerful political branches. so it should be rare. but if it is in front of us, one -- why not apply the standard that is ordinarily applied to every human being in the united states and respect to, for example, grand jury subpoenas? any human being in the united states, when he gets a subpoena,
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and go to a judge and say judge, this is overly burdensome. then he has a chance to show it. and here, if it's the president, the court has already written in paula jones two or three paragraphs of the kinds of things that a president has that are special, special need, not to take his time etc. but we do object to a decision of this court that says apply that, taking into account, the special needs of the presidency just like other human beings. sometimes they have special needs. they might be an emergency etc.al worker, >> the court and the d.c. circuit judge rejected the analogy to grand jury subpoenas served by prosecutors. these are legislative subpoenas, not subpoenas issued by the executive branch for an entirely
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or concerns.erests these subpoenas need to be in aid of valid legislation, not as a prosecutor subpoena to prove wrongdoing. we think the analogy to clinton v jones is helpful. the court rejected an absolute immunity but said the president was entitled to some protection here saying the court should take the same approach. we are not saying the house has no powers to get these records. it needs to satisfy a heightened standard because if it doesn't, these requests will become routine and that weapon in the standing arsenal of the houses of congress i think will be routinely deployed in a way that harms both the separation of powers and undermines the presidency. >> justice alito? >> could you apply the standard that you think is appropriate to the subpoena from the house intelligence committee?
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>> there, the intelligence can committee says it is investigating foreign influence in recent elections. but the subpoena goes back to 2010. it doesn't link in any way to foreign transactions and it it targets only the president. i have no idea why one would serve a subpoena that brought if broad if you were concerned about a more specific topic that would apply to federal candidates more generally. there is nothing in the red brief that explains the mismatch. the financial services committee says it's investigating money laundering after the 2008 financial crisis but the subpoena only goes back to the middle of 2016 and it targets the president. and it targets -- and it targets the president.
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none of it makes any sense if you are in aid of legislation. >> there are disclosure requirements that would apply to the president and there is also mention of conflict of interest legislation that might apply to the president. does congress have the power to regulate the president in these ways? >> i think it's very unlikely that even the d.c. circuit judge did not rely on that because of the serious constitutional if youns it would pose disable the executor from managing some part of the executive branch, financial disclosures are the hardest and what i would say is, if the house in its brief had explained with any specificity what it might want to do to the essex -- do to the ethics in government act and white needs these document, we can have that debate. we don't even get there because all they say is we might want to ega, which was a build
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a house passed before ithr1 before they even issue the subpoenas. i don't know what the house wants to do with any specificity so it's hard to say whether that valid legislation. >> justice sotomayor? wall, that's the issue, isn't it which is until congress investigates, doesn't have a chance to determine what might be valid and we don't have a chance then to look into the law and say it may or may not be valid. you are asking a court in the guise of a heightened review standard to speculate as to legislation that's not in effect yet. i want to go back to the subpoenas at issue. and their breadth. you note the intelligence
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committee goes back 10 years. but i think it's fairly common knowledge that mr. trump, before he was president, was thinking about running for president for of time.ng period why is it that congress cannot believe that looking at long-standing relationships and how those relationships changed or didn't change is important in knowing what undue influence might be occurring? >> our submission is a fairly modest one. it needs to do more than waive its hands about general purposes and say the president would be a useful case study for perspective and generally applicable laws. >> mr. wall, in what other setting does any investigative body have to do more than what was done here?
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for private records? >> this particular question has not come up in the court in any constitutional content but in nixon, the prosecutor had to show demonstrated need. >> i don't want you to go to executive privilege cases. i want you to go to papers that, indisputably, have nothing to do with mr. trump while he was a private person. they are not asking for these president,t being these are pre-being president. >> i think that makes the problem worse, not better. they are targeting the personal life of the president before he was a candidate for office. that is somewhat different but deeply troubling and equally problematic constitutional concerns. >> justice hagan?
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>> i'd like to go back to your use of clinton v jones because i had read that case differently. of course, clinton says you are supposed to treat the president's request with respect when the president says i need a deposition scheduled at a different time or can we have written interrogatories rather than a deposition. but the fundamental claim of presidential immunity or even presidential difference was rejected in that case. i suppose what i'd like to know about your argument -- i read your brief, read the president's own brief. and at no place do you make a case as to why these particular subpoenas place a particular burden on the president such be prevented from carrying out his constitutional
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responsibilities. that's what i took clinton v jones to be saying. that's the kind of thing the president has to come in and show, a case specific argument about burden on the president. are you making that kind of argument at all? >> yes and no. not if what you mean by burden is just compiling and delivering to the documents to the house. but if you mean undermining and harassing the president. >> harassing and undermining the president, the point of some of those suits is to harass and undermine the president and the court let them go. they let them proceed. it said the only thing we are going to be concerned about is if you come into us and say, in defending those suits, you will be prevented from performing the responsibilities that we, the nation, need you to perform. are you making an argument of that kind?
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>> yes, in the courts below when the house goes to the limit of its there, it says probably it could not draw the blood of the president or read his diary. the powers they are seeking in the burden they will impose in the aggregate on the president will, i think, reshape and transform the balance of the separation of powers so yes, we are saying these subpoenas and certainly these subpoenas in the aggregate will harm and undermine the presidency of the united states, not just this president, the institution of the presidency going forward. >> justice gorsuch? >> counsel, i believe in early ,iscussions with justice alito you indicated congress might be able to regulate the area financial disclosures of the president. that is one of the interests of the house has asserted here. what more would you require the house to do to assert that interest? what would be enough in your mind to demonstrate the
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heightened need you suggest as -- is needed? >> i don't think it has to go provision by provision. i think it has to describe the possible legislation with enough specificity to enable meaningful judicial review. we know the president is required to disclose certain things. >> i'm sorry to interrupt but let's say the house says we are considering legislation on whether to require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns for a set number of years. would that be sufficient and if not, why not? >> i think that might be and then you have to look at what they were going after from the various campaigns. it would not get you anywhere near these subpoenas. they would be identifying with some specificity what they were thinking about doing and then it
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-- key up the hard constitutional question about regulating a constitutional created officer with respect to disclosures and that's frankly hard question. that's the hardest of all the possible legislation they pointed to. i don't see how we can have that debate in this case because we -- they haven't had a meaningful judicial review. it goes against the house, not the president. >> justice kavanaugh? >> thank you, mr. chief justice and good morning, mr. wall. i want to make sure we touch on one of your procedural arguments. you say the full house needs to authorize the subpoenas, the house argues that resolution 507 did so. what is your response to that? >> 507, if you look at its terms it as a rubber stamp and a blank , check.
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it purports to authorize anything and everything that has or will be done by the committee. it falls short of the need -- wronglyin wrongly romley and watkins which at least describes general purposes, general legislative topics. here we are talking about the president. i know three committee chairman understood what they were doing. i don't think 218 members of the house have understood that they understand the gravity of the constitutional question they are teeing up. the court requires a clear statement from congress on separate debts on separation of powers and we say the same thing here. that's in the narrowest way to dispose of this case. >> second question, history in practice matter in separation of power cases, as you know. justice ginsburg earlier cited precedent from watergate and whitewater as did justice breyer. those dealt with legislative subpoenas. can you respond to those points
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about those precedents? >> for the first 200 years of the republic, there is nothing like this. >> sorry to interrupt, but specifically watergate and whitewater? >> the watergate subpoenas were for official records and they were subject to a heightened need standard. the whitewater subpoena is the closest analogy. it's modern and was never litigated. that subpoena looks very much like this one. i don't think there is any historical precedent for in the concern is to go down this road and the houses of congress can weaponize the subpoena powers in this way, that will be in the standing arsenal for use against the president and any other constitutionally created officer and i don't think it takes much imagination to know where that road will lead or having more -- or regretting having taken it. >> thank you counsel.
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letter? >> mr. chief justice and may please the court, i would like to jump right in and address some of the very key points that have been made by my friends here. mr. wall said the legislation does not match up. mr. wall referred to the court to the wrong pages of arbery. if you look at pages 17-30 six, 17-36 we discussed in great detail the purposes of the investigation and the subpoenas and indeed, the d.c. circuits said that the house has put legislation where its mouth is. we have specifically provided bills. mr. wall said the full house did not confront the subpoenas. page 241 of the appendix i refer you to where the house specifically referred to these
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very subpoenas, these specific ones and i don't think mr. wall really meant to say that the 218 members of the house did not know what they were doing when they passed that. that is obviously not a valid argument to be made. then we turn to something that came out in answer to justice sotomayor's question. the key records here, some of ones --are want our ones that president trump has not even seen. we want records from third-party business entities, their analyses, for instance for requests of loans. these are documents where there is no privacy interest income and no constitutional liberty interest, etc. we do have limiting principles. it must be pertinent to a
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legislative purpose, can't violate constitutionally protected liberty interest or privileges and cannot undermine the president's ability to carry out his responsibilities. >> let's talk about the standards you propose. the quotes in your brief is that the concern is subject on which legislation could be had. could you give me a plausible example of a subject that you think is beyond any legislation that congress could write? >> i think the best i can do is refer you to the court's decision in kilborn where the court said that congress did not seem to put forward any possible legislation there, it had to do with bankruptcy proceedings that congress is looking into. >> do you think bankruptcy proceedings is the subject on which legislation cannot be had? >> obviously, bankruptcy could
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be. in the kilborn case, this court thought that no such reason had been put forward. 's legislative authority is extremely broad especially of its appropriate. >> i'm suggesting your test is not much of a test. it's not a limitation. it doesn't seem in any way to take account of the fact that we are talking about a coordinate branch of government, the executive branch. do you have any alternative to limitless test that would take account of the fact that you are dealing with a coordinate branch of government? >> yes, i do and the test i'm referring you to was the test that this court set that's pertinent to a legislative purpose.
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what this court said in nixon and in number of other cases, there would be a limit if congress is interfering with the president's ability to carry out his article to functions and no such claim has been made here or can it be made. >> justice thomas? >> thank you, chief justice. mr. letter i would like you to , discuss how the legislative subpoena power is implied or how we arrive at that power. that's the best part of why we in thedering around wilderness trying to figure out what standards to use. >> this court has explained in quite a few cases that the legislative power of congress, the investigative powers stems from parliaments power is an obvious and integral part of legislation. we obviously can't have congress
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passing legislation in ignorance. this court has said most recently in franchise tax board that just because power is implied doesn't mean it's not important. court's powerthis of judicial review is not mentioned in the constitution. >> another example of a power, a legislative power that is implied? >> i'm sorry, your honor, i am not coming up with something right now off the tip of my tongue. >> can you give me the earliest example you have of congress subpoena.legislative >> congress investigated the st. clair expedition.
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it didn't actually issue a subpoena in that case but it's equivalent at the time and the president consulted with his closest advisors and decided to provide everything congress requested and that was several years into -- >> what is the first example of congress issuing a legislative subpoena for private documents? >> i'm sorry, your honor, the watkins decision has a lengthy discussion of that but i don't have the very first one. my memory is that this court describes that in great detail in watkins. >> thank you. >> justice ginsburg? >> the concern has been expressed that congress could be using the subpoena power to harass a political rival.
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what is your answer to -- what is the principal, the limiting principle that would say legitimate legislative purpose, yes, looking toward an enacting a law. that is not to harass a president from the opposing party. this court's decision is extremely important here. it was not seeking papers of the president but the lower court struck down the subpoena. they said the congressional investigation was no good because it was inspired by politics. this court unanimously rejected that as a reason it couldn't be done and the other is clinton versus jones where this court said if there is harassment, the courts can take care of that and that's the answer to the justice department's entire brief. there is no responsible claim
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here that all that's going on is harassment and if there is, this court has said, we are here. >> thank you. >> justice breyer? >> thank you, in respect to the , was there proper authorization of the legislative subpoenas? two points. one, rumley says look at the subpoena and its authorization. at the time the subpoena was issued. perhaps the time it was challenged first. before the later authorization in the full house was passed. compare it with the senate select committee on presidential campaign activities, look at the authorization. the authorization there is
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highly detailed, highly specific and it suggests they could go after the information held by any person including the president. this authorization which came after the challenge, writes a pretty blank check for anything without detail. those are arguments made by the other side. i would like to hear what you say. >> thank you, justice breyer. several responses and i will try to be qwik. this court said clearly you don't just look at the authorization. there was no authorization there. second, yes, resolution 507 is in a part broadly worded but it is extremely specific in its third whereas clause on page 241. it refers to these very specific
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subpoenas. and in addition, authorization is much different now in the modern congress. the modern congress has authorized committee chairs -- to authorize committees to issue subpoenas and they have delegated that authority to its chairs. the modern congress, there clearly is authorization to committee chairs to issue these subpoenas. if there is any doubt about that, the full house ratified these very specific subpoenas. >> before or after they were issued and challenged? >> this is after they were issued and challenged. the issuance is authorized by house rules which this court has
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said it will not examine in the -- and in the full house because there were arguments made of the full house saying we authorize these exact subpoenas. we ratify the issuance of these subpoenas. it is extremely, clearly worded page 241a of the petition. >> thank you. >> justice alito? baffled bymewhat your answer to justice ginsburg about the use of congressional subpoenas for purposes of harassing a president. your final answer was that the courts can take care of that but that's the issue here is whether something should be done to prevent the use of these subpoenas for the harassment of a president. can you explain what you meant? >> absolutely, this court in clinton v jones and in other
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gsa, says wexon v are here to protect the president if there is harassment from congress or private individuals. here, there clearly is valid legislative purposes and the courts below found there was. >> so your answer is the protection against the use of a subpoena for harassment is simply the assessment whether the subpoena is conceivably -- relatively conceivable legislative purpose? >> exactly and that's what the court said but clinton versus jones and nixon versus gsa -- >> that's not much protection. >> it is protection of congress is interfering with the president's ability to do his job. these subpoenas are to private
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parties and the president does not do anything -- >> when you are interfering with the president's ability to do his job, you mean this will take up too much of his time? does that include the potential for the use of subpoenas solely for harassment purposes? >> if they were solely for harassment, they wouldn't meet the standards of being pertinent to a legislative purpose. i think the combination of all of those provide ample protection. >> but you are not able to give the chief justice even one example of a subpoena that would not be pertinent to some conceivable legislative purpose, were you? >> as i said, that is correct because this court itself has said congress's power to legislate is extremely broad especially when you take into
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account appropriations. >>'s of the end result is there is no protection whatsoever. maybe this is the correct answer. in your view, there is no protection against the use of congressional subpoenas for the purpose of preventing harassment of a president because the only requirement is that the subpoena be relevant to a conceivable legislative purpose, and you cannot think of a single example of a subpoena that would not meet that test? >> there may be constitutionally based privileges or things like executive privilege. >> there might be constitutionally based privileges. which privileges apply to a subpoena for records in the hands of a third party? , your honor.e >> name one. >> it seems to me executive privilege could enter in.
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.tate secrets could enter in >> let me ask you one more thing if i can. are there any limits on using a a casent's records and study relating to the need for legislation? the salary and net worth of a future president was that of a person regarded as being middle-class and congress as we want to study possible revisions of tax laws and services to members of the middle class, so we are going to subpoena all information about the assets and services obtained by this president. would that be permissible? >> it certainly could be. that is a very good question. the financial services committee
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is doing an extremely broad investigation of a financial massive sector and the public reporting -- before he became president, president trump and the businesses and his family have been heavily involved in those activities. we were investigating numerous other banks and individuals having nothing whatsoever to do with the president. larger part of a much sector wide, industrywide investigation. >> justice sotomayor? counsel, we have said that personal records with the aim of making the president a case study threaten to run afoul of this court teaching that there is no congressional power to propose for the sake of exposure. to other side points
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hypotheticals that are troubling. the president possible transcripts -- president's transcripts to pause -- simply to enact general health care reforms. to insureat we say against those hypotheticals and thatst a proposed subpoena might be for the sake of exposure. >> your honor, a couple of answers. you said just for the sake of exposure is no good. this court said that exposure evolving government activities can be. pertinent would be the key, pertinent to a valid legislative purpose. here, the intelligence committee
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, there is an obvious need to focus on the president's financial records to determine if the president is subject to foreign leverage. it is obvious it ties in with that legislative purpose. >> i am sorry to interrupt you, but we are limited in time. on that issue of what laws are possible, i can see the argument are there not already a lot of disclosure laws in place? how good this investigation help improve those or change those? >> i assume what you are referring to is disclosure laws by the president. we would have to look to see what the oversight committee was looking at. do we need better laws about conflicts of interest, about a
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president dealing in contracts with government agencies? governmentuld limit agencies ability to enter into or keep contracts with elected public officials. wouldition, congress more want to provide for exposure of assets and conflicts of interest. breadth of the subpoenas litigated below? claims weree exact made and they are discussed in great detail by the second circuit and washington, d.c. circuit. >> justice kagan? >> and talking to the chief justice on limits of congressional power, you said, "a subpoena could not impair the
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president in carrying out his constitutional functions. -- functions." >> there would have to be a balance there. such claim has been made or could be made. to be took the briefs not making that claim that this subpoena would impair at the president in carrying out his constitutional functions, but mr. wall told me he was kind of making such a claim because he thought this subpoena would undermine the president in his job. i guess i would like you to comment on that. >> your honor, it is fascinating. i wrote a note specifically on that. that argument was not made in the justice department's brief anywhere. there is no way this could interfere with the president because he does not have to do anything.
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this is a subpoena to two banks and an accounting firm. some of the key documents we want, the president has probably never seen or does not know they exist. .e want to know banks analyses that argument was not made in the briefs. to talkcould get you about the history that some of your colleagues have talked about, what do you think at the history shows us with respect to this issue? in withbriefly, it ties the key principle of law that this court has said through constitutional interpretation. history can inform what the constitution means. there is a lengthy history of presidents voluntarily or not voluntarily complying with requests for information by congress, and we went through presidents, washington, jackson, , and in morent
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,odern times, nixon, carter reagan, and clinton all complying in various ways either voluntarily or not. in the nixon case, nixon voluntarily provided certain tax returns. he did not provide all of them. togress got more pursuant statutory authority like a subpoena from president nixon returns.amily's tax i do not think either the justice department or mr. trump answered that hypothetical. andory really matters here it shows the arguments being made by president trump are to ignoregly ask you a massive amount of history. >> thank you. >> justice gorsuch?
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>> good morning, mr. letter. normally we use tools to crimes, not town pursue individuals defined crimes. that is a permanent -- a principal you are well familiar with. i am wondering what limiting principle you offer us here that can prevent that danger. the first one would have to be pertinent to a legislative purpose. as we have explored, that is ,ery broad and may be limitless all the others i did least. constitutional privileges, if you are investigating someone in their private capacity, they will be few. it cannot be burdensome was our third. in an age where everything is online and can be handed over on
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, that or thumb drive disappears too. what is left to protected that important value that i know you share? >> i do sure that, your honor. burden -- none of the subpoena recipients have claimed burden. , inswer it this way because am going to stick with the pertinent to legislative purpose. congress today massive investigation of what happened at 9/11. >> let me stop you there. i thought that might be. i would think a federal prosecutor might say that an investigation of an individual could be pertinent to a criminal investigative purpose too because there are so many federal crimes out there and it is possible this person j walked or failed to pay his taxes or
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whatever is concerned is. that is a legitimate investigatory purpose for sure. what takes us out of that background and that concern? >> your honor, this will largely depend on the courts. the only thing that takes you out of the concern is, as we know, congress cannot prosecute. it clearly can look into criminal activity to figure out whether the criminal laws should be changed. the most obvious example would decisionourt's overturning a key criminal conviction involving white-collar crime. congress could do a very thorough investigation to determine whether to pass a different terminal law statute that would actually make it a crime to do what was done in bridge-gate. it is going to be very difficult to separate the two and it say
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what congress is doing and looking into criminal activity for determining if the fia is doing a good job and needs more money or to amend a criminal statute. there is going to be an extremely rare case where that is invalid on congress's part. >> justice kavanaugh. you, mr. chief justice, and good morning, mr. letter. i want to follow up on the line of questioning that several of my colleagues have pursued, the chief justice, justice ginsburg, justice kagan, and others, which comes down to the idea of limitless authority and how to deal with that. says thatside allowing the subpoenas and subpoenas like these for medical
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records would be a grave threat to future presidencies. it would be open season on private records of anyone who is president and may other government officials too. they worry about the harassing nature of subpoenas like that. -- say justice gorsuch which gorsuch was just exploring this. you say it is ok to wait legislative purpose, but i think everybody has explored with you that just about everything as been characterized in terms of the subpoena as pertinent to wait legislative purpose. i do not think you could answer the chief justice's question about something that was not. to, howtion boils down can we protect the house's interest and obtaining the information it needs to legislate but also protect the presidency? -- thosehe court interests? why not deploy a demonstrably
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critical standard as something borrowed from a different context but that might serve to balance these strong competing concerns here? >> i have several responses. the first one goes to the last thing you said about why not employ a demonstrably critical test. i don't know how the court would do that without violating the separation of powers. i was reminded recently by the congressional leaders that they are doing investigations often that they don't know where the legislation might go with that. i don't know how you would force congress to do, show some sort of demonstrably critical -- >> wouldn't it be the same way that is shown in the investigation where executive privilege is asserted? and that context has been the
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tried and true about 50 years? >> because then, your honor, you could demand that the executive branch show that its reason for seeking something outweighs the executive privilege claim. but here, we're not dealing with executive privilege at all. these are financial business records. it's difficult to see how these could come within that kind of balance that would override congress's authority to do investigations. the one other thing i can suggest is this court has suggested, is the voters, but also nixon versus fitzgerald, where this court has said the president has immunity from certain kinds of claims. the court said that one of the reasons that is ok is because we have congressional oversight of the president. this court specifically used that to justify absolute immunity for the president in
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other areas. and last is quentin versus jones. justice kavanaugh: can i interrupt right there? what about medical records? >> your honor, medical records would almost always be not pertinent to valid legislative purpose. on the other hand, -- justice kavanaugh: why wouldn't they be pertinent to say ethics legislation or health-care legislation and the like, in your view? >> your honor, i'm having difficulty thinking of a hypothetical where if congress is examining and deciding on amendments to the affordable care act, how the president's personal medical records would be relevant to that. as i say, the most important public health statute of many , many decades, i don't think
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would be affected by that at all. i'm sure we can come up with some odd hypotheticals where presidential health would clearly be relevant, maybe changing the statutes that involve the succession of when a president becomes incapacitated, something like that i suppose. but in general, congress, there'd be no valid reason for congress to be asking for the president's personal medical records that i can think of. >> thank you, counsel. mr. letter, i know you will be delighted to learn that we have time for additional questioning, so i think i will begin with myself and then we will go through and just see how far we get. one thing that hasn't come up is the fact that we are dealing here with three separate committees and we're concerned,
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as you've recognized, with the potential for harassment. how does that play in? at what point do the personal records become a factor in the analysis of the issue of the issue of harassment? >> your honor, i am very pleased there's more time for questions, but your honor, it would seem to me that there are situation, and again, you'd have to look at clinton versus jones. when it reaches a particular stage? and we are nowhere near that. the subpoena by the intelligence company matches the subpoena from the financial services committee to deutsche bank because, specifically, intelligence did not want to cause too much of a burden -- chief justice roberts: what about, as you know, very shortly in the second case we're going to talk about subpoenas from district attorneys, how does that factor in?
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should those be counted in the balance in terms of when a congressional subpoena becomes harassment? >> definitely not, your honor, since we have nothing to do with the subpoena. we had no contact with the city of new york for that subpoena was issued. so i don't know how that would tell us anything about what the house -- chief justice roberts: what about the senate, i suppose they can issue subpoenas? mr. letter: of course. chief justice roberts: how do you balance that? you have three different committees seeking subpoenas, the district attorney in new york, depending upon party composition of different bodies in the future, you might have the senate joining. how do you measure harassment?
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mr. letter: your honor, what i think what you would do is if these were subpoenas from the house and the senate, a massive number going to the white house, then there certainly would be at a certain point where it would affect the ability of the white house and the president to function. there's no doubt about that. but these subpoenas are to three private businesses. chief justice roberts: thank you. justice thomas, any further questioning? justice thomas: yes, i would like to follow-up. at some point, there's a straw that breaks the camel's back, and it seems as though you are saying we should look at these in isolation as opposed to in -- as opposed to an the aggregate. why wouldn't we look at all of them and look at the full effect and whether at some point it debilitates the president? mr. letter: your honor, i'm
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sorry, i must have misspoken. i meant to say yes, if there are a massive number of subpoenas from the house to the white house, and the white house can come in and say, we can't do anything. all we're doing is answering subpoenas all day. this is impacting the ability of the president to do his job. justice thomas: why would we limit that to the house and the senate? it could be every grand jury, every prosecutor? the concern we had in the clinton case is that at some point, this thing gets out of control, that one could be manageable, but 100 could be impossible. mr. letter: your honor is right, and therefore if our subpoenas were on top of numerous others from grand juries around the united states, you could look at that. but let me emphasize, our subpoenas are not to the president. they are two private business entities. nothing is required of the president for the subpoenas to be fully complied with.
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not a single thing is required of the president or the white house. >> justice ginsburg, any further questioning? justice ginsburg: no, i'll pass. >> justice breyer ?justice -- justice breyer? justice breyer: you've emphasized a ghost or private person and for tax returns, but the ones i've seen go far beyond that. they apply to 15 trump affiliated entities and ask for all documents, closing request for information of the parties, etc. that's a lot of information and some of it's pretty vague. if somebody subpoenaed you for that information or your tax or your tax accountant or somebody in your business, wouldn't you at least want to know if it's being turned over? wooden you want -- wouldn't you want it turned over? and might that take time? and might that not take effort?
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my problem is there may be burdens here. third party here. third party or not, and not just political urgency -- burdens. this information does bother me and the fact that what i hold today also apply to a future senator mccarthy asking a future franklin roosevelt or harry truman executive the same questions, that bothers me. so, what do i do? mr. letter: justice breyer, i fully understand that concern. none of the subpoena recipients have complained about burden. the reason they go back a ways is because -- justice breyer: i'm sorry to interrupt you. i'm not talking about that burden. i'm talking about the president's burden and having too much -- to all of those documents you are requesting which go in my opinion way beyond just tax returns.
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mr. letter: two answers, your honor. we're going far beyond tax returns, but no privilege claim has been made in this case, no party, nobody has raised that claim. second is the are investigating among other things money laundering and that requires looking at a whole range of financial activity. what we're doing here is exactly the kind of thing that senate and house staff do when they're looking at financial sector and what kinds of reforms should be made to the banking industry. but let me say one more time, there has been no claim of privilege here. there has been no claim of burden, no claim whatsoever. they may be relevant in different cases, but certainly not in this one. >> a justice alito? -- justice alito? justice alito: if one house of congress were to subpoena personal records in the hands of a third party regarding a member
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of the other house, let's say someone in a leadership position in the other house, do you think that the doctrine of separation of powers would impose any limitation on that subpoena? mr. letter: very interesting question. your honor, the first thing that comes to mind, though, is wouldn't that violate this debate clause that no member of either house or senate can be question anywhere else? so if there is a request for records, if it is tied in in any way to the legislative functions of that senator or house member, that would be invalid. justice alito: well, it's similar to the subpoenas here,
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they don't of anything to do with the performance of the legislative function, records regarding the personal activities of this individual, purely personal activities, and we can even say they contain certain things that were done before the person was elected to congress. mr. letter: and does part of your hypothetical include they would be pertinent to a legislative purpose? justice alito: pertinent to a legislative purpose. the committee wants to use someone in a leadership position house, a case study for possible legislation. mr. letter: if it met your hypothetical, i think that would be a valid subpoena. i'm not aware that it's ever happened within the history of the house or senate. i don't know of any thing that would be like that. >> anything further? justice sotomayor: that's the whole point, though, isn't it?
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justice alito raised this hypothetical because he says shouldn't we look at history, and it's only modern history where committees have asked for personal papers, so he presumably would discount that . and he would say shouldn't we respect the separation of powers that what is personal to the president is similarly personal to a congressperson? mr. letter: i have to disagree strongly with one thing you said, one key part, that the history, we have history of seeking, congress seeking personal papers of jackson, buchanan, etc. no, there's been lots of seeking by congress of personal papers for many, many decades. this is not just a modern practice at all. justice kagan: i'm wondering if i could ask you to comment on difference between
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on the one hand, the oversight and intelligence committee subpoenas, and on the other hand , the financial services subpoena, the first two subpoenas address the president directly, the financial disclosures, conflict of interest, foreign involvement in presidential campaigns. but the banking committee, financial services committee, was taking a much broader scope, and went that's true, when congress doesn't seem to be looking into the president, but in a much broader topic, might there not be some heightened need for congress to say why it is that they're focusing on residential records for that purpose? mr. letter: your honor, i think that still would get into what raised major separation of powers problems as a court would have -- when asked chairman's of various committees to come
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and testify as to what they were doing and why. you're certainly right in your description. there are 11 subpoenas issued by financial services to members of banks, etc., and only two of them have to do with the president. this is a much, much broader investigation. and last is there's a massive public reporting about the subjects of these subpoenas and their banking practices. and deutsche bank and capital one have both been sanctioned many millions of dollars by banking regulators for failing to properly comply with money laundering laws. >> justice gorsuch, anything further? >> no, chief, thank you. >> justice kavanaugh?
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justice kavanaugh: yes, thank you. i want to follow-up up on questions.to's and this really goes to the fact that there is concern about what the limiting principle is pertinent to a limiting purpose, and his hypothetical about a committee would start subpoenaing numbers of congress of the other house or other party, and you said that hasn't happened. but isn't the whole point that when you start down this road and this cart articulates too low a standard that something like that will start happening? that's the concern that i heard , or i took away from that hypothetical. so, i want to give you a chance to respond to that, why it would
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n't spiral. mr. letter: i greatly appreciate that chance to respond, and first remember exactly what this court did in clinton versus jones. this court said we're going to let this happen because, and then but we will, the courts will monitor the situation and if there are abuses, the courts are still here. in addition, i also realized it might be fair getting into things like privilege information or information involving constitutional liberty interests. and that's what this court has struck down, criminal convictions, etc., for subpoenas that do involve -- justice kavanaugh: personal records exactly identical, but for members of congress none of those would apply, presumably, at least under what you have
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articulated so far today. mr. letter: i think that's right, but i come back to clinton versus jones. this court issued a very clear decision saying we'll allow this one, but obviously the courts will monitor this. if contrary to what has happened in the past, our lengthy history, if there are situations when the president's ability to do his job is undermined, thank goodness the courts still exist that they are there to take care of it. chief justice roberts: would you like to take a minute to wrap up? mr. letter: i greatly appreciate that. just slipping back to my notes, i apologize. as i was saying before, remember that some of the key records here are ones the president has never seen and never had anything to do with, and we ask the court to focus on the specific subpoenas in this case
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because we're not dealing with what-ifs here. we're dealing with situations like a lot of the justice department argument focuses on, as i said before, this court exists fortunately to fix those kinds of situations should they arise. chief justice roberts: thank you. mr. strawbridge, you have two minutes for rebuttal. strawbridge: thank you. my friend from the other side struggled with every hypothetical that he was given about his ability to set some category of information that would not be obtainable under his theory. and i think that's telling because there are no limits to their theories. let's just consider the example that was given regarding the medical records for there's no reason why the president and his
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family couldn't be declared useful case studies and therefore congress would send out a subpoena for the records. the president eats and drinks like everybody else and congress naturally has the ability to regulate food safety. that doesn't mean that congress can subpoena medical records or even his dna. my friend refused to even rule out that hypothetical categorically below and i think that's telling that he cannot provide any meaningful limit today. and i think that's constant with the fact that they fail to consider what the legislative need is. this is an implied power in aid of legislation, not a warrant to investigate wrongdoing going back 10 years. he cites a laundry list of proposals and at no point in the argument section of their brief or today does he try to tie any particular legislative proposals, specifically to the president, the finances, let alone the vast swath of documents that they secure here. this is not an attempt to preserve the separation of powers.
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this is an attempt to eviscerate that. on that point, i wanted to note that the watergate committee did serve congressional subpoenas under the legislative power, and applying the heightened need standards, the d.c. circuit invalidated it just as this court invalidated the attempt to hold in contempt in kilborn when it violated the separation of powers. just as the lower courts have squarely been presented has invalidated it. these subpoenas are overreaching. they are an obvious distraction. they are going to multiply if this court accepts the path that the house is attempting to lay, the decisions below should be reversed. thank you. chief justice roberts: thank you, counsel, the case is submitted. >> president trump was asked about the or been while hosting an event at the white house. here is what he had to say about the ruling on his financial records. >> any reaction to the supreme court ruling? pres. trump: the rulings were basically starting all over again, sending everything back
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down to the lower courts to start all over again. so, from a certain point i'm satisfied. on another point, i'm not satisfied. this is a political witchhunt, the likes of which nobody's ever seen before. it's a pure witchhunt. it's a hoax. just like the mueller investigation was a hoax that i won. and this is another hoax. this is purely political. they send it into new york and you know what's going on in new york. everyone is leaving. it turned out to be a hellhole. they better do something about it. this is a political witchhunt. before i got here, when obama and biden and everyone else was spying on my campaign, illegally. they were illegally spying on my campaign, and it's a political crime, the biggest political crime in the history of our country. and i want to thank the hispanic americans for being with me.
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