Trump to claim 'absolute immunity' from subpoenas in Supreme Court appeal: 'It would literally put the president above the law'

Trump to claim 'absolute immunity' from subpoenas in Supreme Court appeal: 'It would literally put the president above the law'
President Donald J. Trump speaks with members of the press along the South Lawn driveway of the White House Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, prior to boarding Marine One to begin his trip to South Carolina. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

From Democrat-led committees in the U.S. House of Representatives to New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, President Donald Trump has been the subject of countless investigations. But this week, ABC News’ Devin Dwyer reports, attorneys for the president are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to give him immunity from investigations by Congress or local prosecutors into his activities as a private citizen.

This week, Dwyer notes, justices for the High Court will “explore Trump’s claim that he cannot be subjected to subpoenas or any criminal investigative process, by virtue of the demands of the presidency.”

“The assertion of expansive presidential power comes as Trump faces an array of mounting requests for his personal and business financial records,” Dwyer reports. “His efforts to challenge the subpoenas in federal courts have, so far, been unsuccessful at every level.”

Claire Finkelstein, who teaches criminal law at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, has major concerns about the power grab Trump is attempting.

Finkelstein told ABC News, “These are critical cases that are going to decide whether or not a president, in office, has presidential immunity for the duration of the time that he is sitting in office. It would literally put the president above the law if the Supreme Court sides with the president’s lawyers in this case.”

One of Trump’s main arguments in the case is that subpoenas of his financial records from Vance or House Democrats are making it unnecessarily difficult for him to perform his job as president. In a legal brief, Trump’s attorneys argued, “These subpoenas are all expansive, burdensome and unfocused fishing expeditions. They are inappropriate and should be invalidated…. The president cannot effectively discharge those duties if any and every prosecutor in this country may target him with criminal process.”

Vance and the Manhattan DA’s office vehemently disagree. In a legal brief, Vance argues, “The mere risk of interference with official functions does not afford a president categorical immunity against subpoenas for documents concerning private conduct. Presidents throughout history have been subject to judicial process in appropriate circumstances.”

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