Washington (dpa) - The dispute over the release of US President Donald Trump's financial documents is decided by the United States Supreme Court: the Supreme Court announced on Friday that he would deal with it from March.
A decision is expected by the end of June, amid the hot phase of the campaign for the November presidential election. Then Trump could face new adversity after the impeachment process sought by the Democrats: Should the majority of the nine judges rule against him, Trump would have to hand over his financial documents.
Trump has been trying to prevent his tax documents from being released for a long time. Critics suspect that he has something to hide. US presidential candidates usually publish their tax returns during the election campaign. Until a decision by the Supreme Court, Trump's financial records remain under lock and key.
Trump had called the Supreme Court after subordinate courts ruled that he had to follow the various subpoenas - the threats of punishment - to surrender the documents. Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow said they are pleased that the Supreme Court will look into it. "These cases raise significant constitutional questions."
There will be three cases before the Supreme Court:
- The Secret Service Committee and the House Financial Services Committee requested documents under the threat of punishment. They want Deutsche Bank and Bank Capital One to force Trump, relatives and his companies to provide financial documents.
- Trump is also resisting the issuing of tax documents by his accountant company, which the Control Committee in the House of Representatives requested via Subpoena.
- The Manhattan prosecutor has also requested subpoena documents from accountants. It's about alleged hush money payments that Trump is said to have paid to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playmate Karen McDougal. Both women claim to have had affairs with Trump, which he denies.
Trump's lawyers argue that the requirement for the financial documents would exceed the relevant positions. They also argue that the president has immunity. Republican Trump has appointed two Supreme Court judges during his tenure, giving the US Supreme Court a conservative majority.
The Democrats have long been trying to get Trump's tax records. The Subpoenas were able to enact the appropriate committee chairmen because the Democrats have a majority in the House of Representatives. Efforts to get Trump's records are not directly related to the Democrats' impeachment process against the president.
An important development had taken place a few hours earlier in impeachment. The Justice Committee in the House of Representatives voted on Friday to initiate official impeachment proceedings against Trump. With the majority of the Democrats, the panel accepted two charges. The president should therefore answer for abuse of power and hindrance to the investigation by the Congress, i.e. the US Parliament.
The vote of the Justice Committee is a recommendation to the plenary of the House of Representatives. There, the Democrats want to vote on the charges as early as next week. If there is an expected majority for the charges, impeachment proceedings against Trump would formally begin. Trump would then be the third president in US history against whom such proceedings would be officially opened.
After the vote in the House of Representatives, the process continues in the Senate, where Trump's Republicans represent the majority. There could already be a trial against Trump in January. A conviction and impeachment by the Senate, for which a two-thirds majority of 67 out of the 100 senators would be needed, is currently highly unlikely. This would require at least 20 Republican senators to side with the Democrats.