Tax and Financial Records Case

Manhattan DA-Mazars Case

Major Issue:  Whether President Trump can stop a county prosecutor from using a subpoena to obtain tax and financial records relating to him from his accountant, Mazars USA.

Case Status:  Awaiting a district court opinion.

Case Description:  On Aug. 29, 2019, Manhattan District Attorney (“Manhattan DA”) Cyrus Vance issued a grand jury subpoena to President Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, requesting copies of Trump-related tax returns and other financial records over an eight-year period.  The request was made to advance an ongoing criminal investigation into payments made by Mr. Trump, before he became president but during his campaign, to two women who have accused him of wrongdoing.  On Sept. 19, 2019, President Trump filed suit in the federal district court for the Southern District of New York (“SDNY”) to quash the grand jury subpoena.  The suit named both the Manhattan DA and Mazars. 

Procedural Posture:  SDNY Judge Victor Marrero was assigned to Case No. 19-cv-08694.  On Oct. 7, 2019, the district court dismissed the case on two alternate grounds and upheld the grand jury subpoena.  President Trump appealed the district court’s decision.  On Nov. 4, 2019, the Second Circuit affirmed part of the district court’s ruling, upheld the grand jury subpoena, and remanded the case for further proceedings.  On Dec. 13, 2019, the Supreme Court granted a petition to hear the case and consolidated it with two others involving government subpoenas directed to third parties to produce tax and financial records related to President Trump.  On July 9, 2020, the Supreme Court held that presidents are not immune to local grand jury subpoenas and are not entitled to a heightened standard of review, but may raise the same legal objections as any other person subject to the subpoena.  The Supreme Court remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.  On July 27, 2020, President Trump filed an amended complaint to quash the subpoena.

On Aug. 29, 2019, the Manhattan DA issued a grand jury subpoena to President Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars, requesting copies of Trump-related tax returns and other financial records.  The request was made to advance an ongoing criminal investigation of payments made by Mr. Trump, before he became president but during his campaign, to two women who have accused him of wrongdoing.  On Sept. 19, 2019, President Trump filed suit in the SDNY court to quash the grand jury subpoena to his accounting firm.  At the request of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the court allowed DOJ to participate as an amicus in the case in  support of the President.  After receiving filings from the President, DOJ, and the Manhattan DA, on Oct. 7, 2019, the district dismissed the case on two alternate grounds and upheld the grand jury subpoena.  Trump v. Vance, 395 F. Supp. 3d 283 (S.D.N.Y. 2019).  President Trump filed an appeal with the Second Circuit which affirmed part of the district court’s opinion.  President Trump then appealed to the Supreme Court which affirmed the Second Circuit opinion and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings.  

On July 27, 2020, taking into account the Supreme Court ruling, President Trump filed an amended complaint to quash the grand jury subpoena.

On Oct. 7, 2019, President Trump appealed the district court decision.  A Second Circuit 3-judge panel, with Judges Chin, Droney and Katzmann, was assigned to Case No. 19-3204.  DOJ filed an amicus brief in support of the President. The panel heard oral argument on Oct. 23, 2019.  On Nov. 4, 2019, in a 3-0 decision, the panel affirmed the district court’s ruling in part, upheld the Manhattan DA’s grand jury subpoena, and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings.  Trump v. Vance, 2019 WL 5687447 (Nov. 4, 2019). 

President Trump appealed the decision of the Second Circuit.  On July 9, 2020, the Supreme Court affirmed the Second Circuit opinion and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings.

On Nov. 14, 2019, the President filed a petition with the Supreme Court seeking review of the Second Circuit’s decision in the case.  DOJ filed an amicus brief in support of the President.  The Manhattan DA opposed the petition.  Mazars waived its right to submit filings in the case.  On Dec. 13, 2019, the Supreme Court granted the petition to hear the case and a stay of the grand jury subpoena pending appeal.  The Supreme Court also consolidated the case with two others involving government subpoenas directed to third parties to produce tax and financial records related to President Trump.  On July 9, 2020, in a 7-2 decision with one concurrence and two dissents, the Supreme Court held that presidents are not immune to state and local grand jury subpoenas and are not entitled to a heightened standard of review, but may raise the same legal objections as any other person subject to the subpoena.  The Supreme Court affirmed the Second Circuit and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings.

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