Trump v. Vance

Whether a Grand Jury Can Obtain the President’s Financial Records and Tax Returns.
  • Supreme Court Rejects Trump's Bid to Shield Tax Returns: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a New York grand jury can obtain President Trump’s tax returns from the President’s accounting firm. In its decision from Trump v. Vance, the Court rejected the President's attempt to block the grand jury's subpoena. "Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of our Court established that no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding," the Court wrote. "We reaffirm that principle today and hold that the President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need." EPIC filed an amicus brief in the case supporting disclosure. EPIC explained that President Trump broke with 40 years of precedent by concealing his tax records, even as he sought to collect sensitive voter and citizenship data from the public. "This is inverted liberty: privacy for the President and compelled disclosure of personal data for the public," EPIC argued. "That is antithetical to the structure and practice of modern democracies which safeguard the privacy of citizens and impose transparency obligations on political leaders, most notably the President." EPIC previously sought public release of President Trump's tax returns in EPIC v. IRS, arguing that disclosure was necessary to correct numerous factual misstatements made by the President. In EPIC v. IRS II, EPIC is seeking "offers-in-compromise" and related tax records of President Trump and his businesses. (Jul. 9, 2020)
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  • Report on Trump Tax Records Reinforces EPIC's Calls for Presidential Tax Return Disclosure » (Sep. 29, 2020)
    A blockbuster report from the New York Times revealing details of President Trump's tax history underscores the need for transparency of presidential tax returns, which EPIC has repeatedly advocated. The Times reports that the President paid little or no income tax in many years; is due to repay hundreds of millions of dollars in loans in the near term; and that he has "received more money from foreign sources and U.S. interest groups than previously known." The Times also reports that Trump and the Internal Revenue Service reached a tentative agreement in 2014 over a disputed $70 million tax refund—a deal that may have been struck under the IRS's offer in compromise procedures. In EPIC v. IRS II, EPIC is currently litigating for the release of offer in compromise records involving the President and his associated businesses. By law, these records "shall be disclosed to members of the general public." In March, EPIC filed an amicus brief in Trump v. Vance urging the Supreme Court to allow the release of President Trump's tax returns to a New York grand jury. EPIC wrote that the "longstanding practice of disclosing presidential tax returns reflects a central principle of modern democracies: privacy must sometimes yield to accountability." The Court ultimately rejected the President's effort to categorically shield his tax returns from state prosecutors. EPIC also sought public release of President Trump's tax returns in EPIC v. IRS I, arguing that disclosure was necessary to correct numerous factual misstatements made by the President.
  • Supreme Court Rejects Trump's Bid to Shield Tax Returns » (Jul. 9, 2020)
    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a New York grand jury can obtain President Trump’s tax returns from the President’s accounting firm. In its decision from Trump v. Vance, the Court rejected the President's attempt to block the grand jury's subpoena. "Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of our Court established that no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding," the Court wrote. "We reaffirm that principle today and hold that the President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need." EPIC filed an amicus brief in the case supporting disclosure. EPIC explained that President Trump broke with 40 years of precedent by concealing his tax records, even as he sought to collect sensitive voter and citizenship data from the public. "This is inverted liberty: privacy for the President and compelled disclosure of personal data for the public," EPIC argued. "That is antithetical to the structure and practice of modern democracies which safeguard the privacy of citizens and impose transparency obligations on political leaders, most notably the President." EPIC previously sought public release of President Trump's tax returns in EPIC v. IRS, arguing that disclosure was necessary to correct numerous factual misstatements made by the President. In EPIC v. IRS II, EPIC is seeking "offers-in-compromise" and related tax records of President Trump and his businesses.
  • Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Case for Disclosure of Trump Tax Returns » (May. 12, 2020)
    The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday morning in Trump v. Vance, a case concerning the release of President Trump's tax returns to a grand jury. EPIC filed an amicus brief in the case supporting disclosure. EPIC explained that President Trump broke with 40 years of precedent by concealing his tax records, even as he sought to collect sensitive voter and citizenship data from the public. "This is inverted liberty: privacy for the President and compelled disclosure of personal data for the public," EPIC argued. "That is antithetical to the structure and practice of modern democracies which safeguard the privacy of citizens and impose transparency obligations on political leaders, most notably the President." EPIC previously sought public release of President Trump's tax returns in EPIC v. IRS, arguing that disclosure was necessary to correct numerous factual misstatements made by the President. In EPIC v. IRS II, EPIC is seeking "offers-in-compromise" and related tax records of President Trump and his businesses.
  • EPIC to Supreme Court: Allow Disclosure of Trump Tax Returns » (Mar. 4, 2020)
    In an amicus brief filed today, EPIC urged the Supreme Court to allow the release of President Trump's tax returns to a grand jury. EPIC explained that President Trump broke with 40 years of precedent by concealing his tax records, even as he sought to collect sensitive voter and citizenship data from the public. "This is inverted liberty: privacy for the President and compelled disclosure of personal data for the public," EPIC argued. "That is antithetical to the structure and practice of modern democracies which safeguard the privacy of citizens and impose transparency obligations on political leaders, most notably the President." EPIC previously sought public release of President Trump's tax returns in EPIC v. IRS, arguing that disclosure was necessary to correct numerous factual misstatements made by the President. In EPIC v. IRS II, EPIC is currently seeking "offers-in-compromise" and related tax records of President Trump and his businesses. The case before the Supreme Court, Trump v. Vance, will be argued March 31.
  • Supreme Court to Hear Disputes About Release of Trump's Tax Returns » (Dec. 13, 2019)
    The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will consider President Trump's appeals to block subpoenas by Congressional committees and the Manhattan District attorney for his financial records, including tax returns.The Second Circuit rejected the President's attempt to block a grand jury subpoena, finding "no support" for the argument "that a President's private and non‐privileged documents may be absolutely shielded from judicial scrutiny." EPIC previously sought public release of President Trump's tax returns in EPIC v. IRS, arguing that disclosure was necessary to correct numerous factual misstatements made by the President. In EPIC v. IRS II, EPIC is currently seeking "offers-in-compromise" and related tax records of President Trump and his businesses.
  • Appeals Court: Trump Tax Returns Must Be Disclosed to Prosecutor » (Nov. 4, 2019)
    A federal appeals court has ruled that President Trump's accountants must turn over eight years of the President's personal tax returns to the Manhattan district attorney. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the President's attempt to block a grand jury subpoena for the returns, finding "no support" for the argument "that a President's private and non‐privileged documents may be absolutely shielded from judicial scrutiny." EPIC previously sought President Trump's tax returns in EPIC v. IRS, arguing that disclosure was necessary to correct numerous factual misstatements made by the President about his taxes. In EPIC v. IRS II, EPIC is seeking "offers-in-compromise" and related tax records of President Trump and his businesses.
  • Senate Intelligence Committee: Russian Election Interference "Extensive" » (Jul. 25, 2019)
    The Senate Intelligence Committee has released the results of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. The Committee found "extensive" Russian interference dating back to 2014. The EPIC Democracy and Cybersecurity Project has pursued numerous FOIA cases concerning Russian interference with the 2016 election. In EPIC v. DOJ, EPIC is seeking the complete, unredacted Mueller Report. Hearings will will take place in federal court on August 5 and August 9. In EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyberattacks), EPIC obtained the FBI victim notification procedures. In EPIC v. ODNI (Russian hacking), EPIC confirmed that Russia engaged in a "multi-pronged" attack against the U.S. elections. In EPIC v. IRS I, EPIC sought the release of President Trump's tax returns. In EPIC v. IRS II, EPIC is seeking the release of related business returns. And in EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity), EPIC obtained documents about election security procedures.
  • Congress Sues for Release of Trump's Tax Returns » (Jul. 2, 2019)
    The U.S. House of Representatives has filed suit to obtain six years of President Trump's personal tax returns from the IRS. Rep. Richard Neal, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has the authority under a section of the tax code to obtain the tax returns. But the IRS and Treasury Department have repeatedly refused to comply with the law. EPIC has sought the release of the President's tax records in two lawsuits: EPIC v. IRS I and EPIC v. IRS II. The D.C. Circuit's opinion in EPIC v. IRS I is cited in the House's complaint multiple times. EPIC previously urged Congress to obtain and publicly release of President Trump's tax returns. EPIC is seeking to determine the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
  • IRS Refuses Congressional Demand for President’s Tax Returns » (Apr. 11, 2019)
    The IRS has refused to comply with Rep. Richard Neal’s deadline to turn over President Trump's tax returns. As Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Neal has the authority under a section of the tax code to obtain the tax returns. Rep. Neal's letter demanded six years of tax returns from President Trump and his business entities. It is a well established tradition for Presidents and Presidential candidates to make public their tax returns. EPIC has sought the release of the President's returns in two lawsuits: EPIC v. IRS I and EPIC v. IRS II. EPIC also sent a request to the IRS for information about Rep. Richard Neal's request. EPIC previously urged Congress to obtain and publicly release of President Trump's tax returns. EPIC is seeking to determine the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
  • EPIC Seeks Records About Rep. Neal's Request for Trump's Tax Returns » (Apr. 5, 2019)
    EPIC has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Internal Revenue Service for records related to Rep. Richard Neal's request for President Trump's tax returns. As Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Neal has the authority under a section of the tax code to request and receive tax returns. Rep. Neal's letter demanded the IRS to turn over six years of tax returns from President Trump and his business entities and gave the agency until April 10, 2019 to comply with the committee’s request. EPIC previously urged Congress to obtain the public release of President Trump's tax returns. EPIC has also sought the release of the president's returns in two lawsuits: EPIC v. IRS I (President Trump's personal tax records) and EPIC v. IRS II (President Trump’s business tax records).
  • EPIC Files First Lawsuit for Special Counsel Report on Russian Election Interference » (Mar. 22, 2019)
    EPIC has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain the final report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller concerning Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Attorney General William Barr notified Congress on Friday that the Special Counsel had delivered the final report. In November 2018, EPIC submitted a detailed Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Justice seeking records about the investigation. The Special Counsel was authorized to conduct an investigation into Russian interference, including "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump." Special Counsel Mueller has since brought criminal charges against 34 individuals and three organizations. EPIC, through its Democracy and Cybersecurity Project, has pursued multiple FOIA cases concerning Russian interference with the 2016 election, including EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyberattacks), EPIC v. ODNI (Russian hacking), EPIC v. IRS I (release of Trump's tax returns), EPIC v. IRS II (release of Trump's offers-in-compromise), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity). The case for the release of the Mueller Report is EPIC v. DOJ, No. 19-810 (D.D.C.) [Exhibits].
  • Intelligence Chiefs: New Threats to Democratic Institutions » (Feb. 4, 2019)
    In a hearing last week, the chiefs of the U.S. intelligence agencies told Senators that foreign adversaries will "increasingly use cyber capabilities" to "seek political, economic, and military advantage." The intelligence leaders further stated that foreign powers are "already looking to the 2020 election" in order to advance their interests, and that those powers will "almost certainly" target online operations to weaken democratic institutions. After the 2016 election, EPIC launched a project on Democracy and Cybersecurity to safeguard democratic institutions. EPIC filed a series of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to determine the extent of Russian interference: EPIC v. FBI (cyberattack victim notification), EPIC v. ODNI (Russian hacking), EPIC v. IRS I (release of Trump's tax returns), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity). EPIC has said, "The public has a right to know the details when a foreign government attempts to influence the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. And the public has a right to know what steps have been taken to prevent future attacks."
  • EPIC Urges Congress to Obtain and Publish President Trump's Tax Returns » (Dec. 19, 2018)
    EPIC has asked Congress to obtain the public release of President Trump's tax returns. As EPIC explained, "By custom and tradition, candidates for the Presidency have routinely made available to the public their personal tax returns to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest that might jeopardize the public trust." EPIC's request to Congress follows the decision in EPIC v. IRS, a Freedom of Information Act case for the release of the tax returns. EPIC filed the case after President Trump falsely tweeted that "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING." EPIC continues to seek the President's business tax records in EPIC v. IRS II.
  • Senate Reports Detail Russian Russian Interference in 2016 Election » (Dec. 18, 2018)
    In a pair of reports released this week, the Senate Intelligence Committee provided fresh details on the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Committee Chairman Richard Burr explained: "This newly released data demonstrates how aggressively Russia sought to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology, and how the IRA actively worked to erode trust in our democratic institutions. Most troublingly, it shows that these activities have not stopped." Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, EPIC filed a series of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to determine the extent of Russian interference: EPIC v. FBI, EPIC v. ODNI, EPIC v. IRS I, and EPIC v. DHS. As EPIC President Marc Rotenberg explained in an op-ed in March 2017: "The public has a right to know the details when a foreign government attempts to influence the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. And the public has a right to know what steps have been taken to prevent future attacks."
  • Appeals Court: IRS 'Misunderstands' FOIA Obligations in EPIC Case, but Trump's Tax Returns Still Withheld » (Dec. 18, 2018)
    The D.C. Circuit ruled today that the IRS "misunderstands its FOIA disclosure obligations" in EPIC v. IRS, EPIC's Freedom of Information Act case to obtain public release of President Trump's tax returns. EPIC argued that the IRS has the authority, under a legal provision known as "(k)(3)," to disclose the President's returns to correct numerous misstatements of fact concerning his financial ties to Russia. For example, President Trump falsely tweeted that "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING." Although the D.C. Circuit ruled that EPIC could not compel the IRS to use "(k)(3)," the Court rebuked the IRS for "disregard[ing] the plain statutory text" of FOIA and held that EPIC's request was wrongly "met with a closed door." The Court also emphasized that the law at issue in EPIC v. IRS II—EPIC's separate FOIA suit for President Trump's business tax records—"does allow the public to inspect certain return information." EPIC will continue to pursue the release of the President's tax records, which will reveal whether and how the President's private financial interests conflict with the national interests of the United States.
  • EPIC Obtains DHS Pre-Election Assessment on Threats to US Election Infrastructure » (Dec. 10, 2018)
    As part of EPIC's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis released to EPIC documents related to the Russian interference of the 2016 presidential election. One notable document is "Cyber Threats and Vulnerabilities to US Election Infrastructure." The report, issued before the presidential election, stated that the "DHS ha[d] no indication that adversaries or criminals are planning cyber operations against US election infrastructure that would change the outcome of the coming US election." The DHS report also stated that a successful widespread cyber operation against US voting machines would require "a multiyear effort with significant...resources available only to a nation state" but this level of level of effort "would make it nearly impossible to avoid detection." According to election experts, this assertion ignores the possibility that an adversary can change an election outcome without a widespread attacks. Launching targeted attacks on swing districts could compromise an election, especially when few states engage in post-election audits and the impossibility of a recount in states with paperless voting machines. EPIC is pursuing several other related FOIA cases about Russian interference with the 2016 election: EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyberattacks), EPIC v. ODNI (Russian hacking), EPIC v. IRS I (release of Trump's tax returns), and EPIC v. IRS II (release of Trump's offers-in-compromise).
  • U.S. House Flips, EPIC Seeks Release of Trump Tax Returns » (Nov. 7, 2018)
    With the change of control in Congress and the ongoing interest in President Trump's tax returns, two EPIC Freedom of Information Act cases will receive renewed attention. In EPIC v. IRS, currently before the D.C. Circuit, EPIC argued that the IRS has the authority to disclose the returns to correct numerous misstatements of fact concerning his financial ties to Russia. President Trump tweeted that "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING"—a claim contradicted by his own attorneys, family members, and business partners. EPIC has repeatedly urged Congress to exercise oversight of the IRS and to support the disclosure of the President's returns in EPIC's case. In a second case, EPIC v. IRS II, EPIC is seeking the release of additional tax records related to President Trump and over 300 of his businesses. Two-thirds of voters favor the release of Trump's tax returns.
  • EPIC Seeks Special Counsel Reports on Russian Election Interference » (Nov. 5, 2018)
    EPIC has submitted an urgent Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Justice for records about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In May 2017, the Acting Attorney General authorized an investigation into Russian interference, including "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump." Special Counsel Mueller has since brought criminal charges against 33 individuals and three organizations. According to news reports and President Trump's attorneys, Special Counsel Mueller intends to transmit one or more reports detailing his findings. EPIC launched a project on Democracy and Cybersecurity in response to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. EPIC is currently pursuing several related FOIA cases concerning Russian interference with the 2016 election: EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyberattacks), EPIC v. ODNI (Russian hacking), EPIC v. IRS I (release of Trump's tax returns), EPIC v. IRS II (release of Trump’s offers-in-compromise), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • EPIC v. IRS: D.C. Circuit Hears Arguments in FOIA Case for Trump's Tax Returns » (Sep. 13, 2018)
    The D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments today in EPIC v. IRS, EPIC's Freedom of Information Act case to obtain public release of President Trump's tax returns. EPIC argued that the IRS has the authority, under a provision known as "(k)(3)," to disclose the President's returns to correct numerous misstatements of fact concerning his financial ties to Russia. For example, President Trump falsely tweeted that "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING." EPIC Counsel John Davisson told the court that "If ever there were a situation that justified the use of (k)(3), this is it." Judge Patricia Millett questioned the IRS's claim that it can only process EPIC's FOIA with the President's consent. "It would be ludicrous to require consent of the taxpayer under (k)(3)," Millett said. A broad majority of the American public favor the release of the President's tax returns. EPIC v. IRS is one of several FOIA cases EPIC has pursued concerning Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, including EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyberattack) and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity). In a related case, EPIC v. IRS II, EPIC is seeking the release of tax settlement information concerning Donald Trump's businesses. These "offers in compromise" are "an agreement between a taxpayer and the Internal Revenue Service that settles a taxpayer's tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed."
  • D.C. Circuit to Hear Arguments in EPIC v. IRS, FOIA Case for Trump's Tax Returns » (Sep. 11, 2018)
    The D.C. Circuit will hear arguments on Thursday, September 13 in EPIC v. IRS, EPIC's Freedom of Information Act case to obtain public release of President Trump's tax returns. Live audio of the arguments will be streamed from this link at or around 9:30 a.m. EPIC has argued that the IRS has the authority to disclose the President's returns to correct numerous misstatements of fact concerning his financial ties to Russia. For example, President Trump tweeted that "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING"—a claim "plainly contradicted by his own attorneys, family members, and business partners." As EPIC told the Court, "there has never been a more compelling FOIA request presented to the IRS." A broad majority of the American public favor the release of the President's tax returns. EPIC v. IRS is one of several FOIA cases EPIC has pursued concerning Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, including EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyberattack) and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • D.C. Circuit Announces Panel in EPIC v. IRS, FOIA Case for Trump's Tax Returns » (Aug. 14, 2018)
    The D.C. Circuit has announced the three-judge panel that will decide EPIC v. IRS, EPIC's Freedom of Information Act case to obtain public release of President Trump's tax returns. Arguments will be held in the case on Thursday, September 13, 2018 before Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson, Judge Patricia A. Millett, and Judge Harry T. Edwards. EPIC has argued that the IRS has the authority to disclose the President's returns to correct numerous misstatements of fact concerning his financial ties to Russia. For example, President Trump tweeted that "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING"—a claim "plainly contradicted by his own attorneys, family members, and business partners." As EPIC told the Court, "there has never been a more compelling FOIA request presented to the IRS." A broad majority of the American public favor the release of the President's tax returns. EPIC v. IRS is one of several FOIA cases EPIC has pursued concerning Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, including EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyber attack) and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • D.C. Circuit Sets Date for Argument in EPIC v. IRS, FOIA Case for Trump's Tax Returns » (Jun. 19, 2018)
    The D.C. Circuit has scheduled oral argument in EPIC v. IRS, EPIC's Freedom of Information Act case to obtain public release of President Trump's tax returns. The Court will hear the case on Thursday, September 13, 2018. EPIC has argued that the IRS has the authority to disclose the President's returns to correct numerous misstatements of fact concerning his financial ties to Russia. For example, President Trump tweeted that "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING"—a claim "plainly contradicted by his own attorneys, family members, and business partners." As EPIC told the Court, "there has never been a more compelling FOIA request presented to the IRS." A broad majority of the American public favor the release of the President's tax returns. EPIC v. IRS is one of several FOIA cases EPIC is pursuing concerning Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, including EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyber attack) and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • After EPIC Obtains FBI Victim Notification Procedures, Court Rules for Bureau » (May. 23, 2018)
    After EPIC obtained the FBI cyberattack victim notification procedures in Freedom of Information Act lawsuit EPIC v. FBI, a D.C. federal court has ruled that the agency may withhold remaining records explaining FBI's response to the Russian interference in the 2016 election. EPIC had argued that the FBI had failed to demonstrate that releasing records of the agency's response to cyberattacks would interfere with its investigation of the Russian interference. The "Victim Notification Procedures" obtained by EPIC led to Associated Press investigation which found that the FBI did not follow the Procedures and failed to notify U.S. officials that their email accounts were compromised. EPIC is currently pursuing related FOIA cases about Russian interference in the 2016 election, including EPIC v. IRS (Release of Trump Tax Returns) and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • Tax Day: EPIC Files Second Lawsuit to Obtain Trump Tax Records » (Apr. 17, 2018)
    EPIC has filed a second Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain President Trump's tax records. EPIC is seeking information about IRS settlements involving the President and his businesses—information which the agency is required to disclose to the public upon request. The IRS agreed to process EPIC's request in February but has failed to release any records to date. EPIC previously sued the IRS for the release of the President's personal tax returns to correct misstatements of fact about his financial ties to Russia. President Trump tweeted "I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING"—a claim contradicted by the President's own lawyers. That case, EPIC v. IRS, is now before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. EPIC is litigating several other FOIA cases about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, including EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyber attack) and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • EPIC to House Oversight Committee: Support Release of Trump Tax Records » (Apr. 17, 2018)
    In advance of a hearing regarding IRS oversight, EPIC sent a statement to a House committee urging the release of President Trump's tax returns. As EPIC explained, "candidates for the Presidency have routinely released tax record information to the American public. Mr. Trump broke with that tradition even though he pledged to make this information publicly available." As a consequence, EPIC brought a FOIA suit for the release of the President's tax returns. EPIC recently filed the opening brief in EPIC v. IRS, now before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. EPIC told the court that the IRS has the authority to disclose the President's returns to correct numerous misstatements of fact concerning financial ties to Russia. For example, President Trump tweeted that "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING"--a claim "plainly contradicted by his own attorneys, family members, and business partners." As EPIC explained to the Court and to Congress, "there has never been a more compelling FOIA request presented to the IRS."
  • EPIC Supports Senate's Open Government Work » (Mar. 12, 2018)
    In advance of the Senate hearing on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), EPIC submitted a statement highlighting recent FOIA cases. EPIC told the committee about documents EPIC has obtained through FOIA requests and litigation, including documents obtained last week that show federal voting rights officials sought to "clean up" state voter rolls. EPIC also discussed its case against the IRS seeking the release of President Trump's tax returns. Since 2001, EPIC has produced an annual FOIA gallery in honor of Sunshine Week to feature EPIC's FOIA work over the past year.
  • EPIC v. IRS: EPIC Urges D.C. Circuit to Green-Light Release of President Trump's Tax Returns » (Feb. 22, 2018)
    EPIC has filed the opening brief in its case to obtain President Trump's tax returns. EPIC told the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that the IRS has the authority to disclose the President's returns to correct numerous misstatements of fact concerning his financial ties to Russia. For example, President Trump tweeted that "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING"—a claim "plainly contradicted by his own attorneys, family members, and business partners." A Quinnipiac poll released today confirms that public overwhelmingly supports (67%) the release of the President's returns. As EPIC told the Court, "there has never been a more compelling FOIA request presented to the IRS." EPIC v. IRS is one of several FOIA cases EPIC is pursuing concerning Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, including EPIC v. ODNI (scope of Russian interference), EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyber attack), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity). Press Release.
  • Congressional Task Force Releases Report on Election Security » (Feb. 14, 2018)
    The Congressional Task Force on Election Security today released its final report detailing vulnerabilities in U.S. election systems. The report includes many recommendations, purchasing voting systems with paper ballots, post-election audits, and funding for IT support. The report also proposes a national strategy to counter efforts to undermine democratic institutions. Election experts have said that Congress has not done enough to safeguard the mid-term elections. In early 2017, EPIC launched the Project on Democracy and Cybersecurity. EPIC is currently pursuing several FOIA cases concerning Russian interference with the 2016 election, including EPIC v. FBI (cyberattack victim notification), EPIC v. ODNI (Russian hacking), EPIC v. IRS (release of Trump's tax returns), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • Senators Question Intelligence Officials on Russian Election Interference » (Feb. 13, 2018)
    The Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing today with top officials from all U.S. intelligence agencies: Office of the Director of National Intelligence, CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, FBI, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The officials unanimously agreed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and will interfere in the 2018 election, noting that they have already observed attempts to influence upcoming elections. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said: "There should be no doubt that Russia perceived that its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations." EPIC launched the Project on Democracy and Cybersecurity, after the 2016 presidential election, to safeguard democratic institutions. EPIC is currently pursuing several FOIA cases concerning Russian interference, including EPIC v. FBI (cyberattack victim notification), EPIC v. ODNI (Russian hacking), EPIC v. IRS (release of Trump's tax returns), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity). EPIC also provided comments to the Federal Election Commission to improve transparency of election advertising on social media.
  • EPIC FOIA: IRS Agrees to Fulfill EPIC's Request for Trump Tax Records » (Feb. 12, 2018)
    The IRS acknowledged that it will fulfill EPIC's FOIA request seeking certain tax records of President Trump and the President's businesses. It marks the first time, to EPIC's knowledge, that the IRS has agreed to process a third-party FOIA request for the President's tax information. EPIC is seeking tax records relating to settlements with the IRS, which the agency is required to disclose to the public upon request. EPIC previously sued the IRS for the release of the President's personal tax returns to correct misstatements of fact about his financial ties to Russia. President Trump tweeted "I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING"—a claim contradicted by the President's own lawyers. That case, EPIC v. IRS, is now before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. EPIC is litigating several other FOIA cases about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, including EPIC v. ODNI (scope of Russian interference), EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyber attack), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • EPIC Pursues Trump's IRS Records, Contradictory Statements about Financial Ties to Russia » (Feb. 5, 2018)
    EPIC has filed a new Freedom of Information Act request with the IRS, seeking tax-related records for President Trump's businesses. The new EPIC request follows EPIC's pending lawsuit for the release of Trump's personal tax returns. The request seeks the release of tax records concerning settlements with the IRS, which the agency is required to disclose to the public upon request. EPIC previously called on the IRS to release the President's tax returns to correct misstatements of fact about his financial ties to Russia. President Trump tweeted "I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING"—a claim contradicted by the President's lawyers. EPIC v. IRS, which is now before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, is one of several FOIA cases EPIC is pursuing concerning Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. EPIC is also litigating EPIC v. ODNI (scope of Russian interference), EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyber attack), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • House Members Introduce Russian Election Meddling Bill » (Jan. 29, 2018)
    Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Schneider (D-IL) introduced the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act of 2018 to deter foreign interference in U.S. elections. The bipartisan legislation stipulates that if the Director of National Intelligence determines that the Russian government knowingly interfered in a U.S. election, the President is required to impose sanctions on Russia's aerospace, banking, defense, energy, intelligence and mining industries. The bill is a direct response to Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. EPIC is currently pursuing several related FOIA cases, including EPIC v. FBI (cyberattack victim notification), EPIC v. ODNI (Russian hacking), EPIC v. IRS (release of Trump's tax returns), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • D.C. Circuit Sets Schedule for EPIC Case to Obtain Trump Tax Returns » (Dec. 19, 2017)
    The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has set a schedule in EPIC’s case to obtain President Trump’s tax returns. EPIC previously argued that the IRS has the authority to release the records to correct numerous misstatements of fact concerning financial ties to Russia, such as President Trump’s tweet "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING." The IRS recently admitted to EPIC that it has used this authority at least 10 times in one year. The schedule for the appeal was announced the same week that Congress considers sweeping tax legislation, but Congress and the public remain in the dark about the consequences of the legislation on the President’s personal finances. According to CNN, 73% of Americans favor release of the President’s tax returns. EPIC v. IRS is one of several FOIA cases concerning Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, including EPIC v. ODNI (scope of Russian interference), EPIC v. FBI (response to Russian cyber attack), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity). EPIC’s opening brief in EPIC v. IRS is due January 24, 2018.
  • EPIC Urges House Judiciary to Examine FBI Response to Russian Cyber Attacks » (Dec. 12, 2017)
    EPIC has sent a statement to the House Judiciary Committee ahead of Wednesday's DOJ Oversight hearing. EPIC urged the Committee to question Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein about the FBI's ability to respond to future cyberattacks concerning the 2018 elections. A recent Associated Press investigation found that the FBI, the lead agency for cyber response, did not notify U.S. officials that their email accounts were compromised during the 2016 election. According to documents obtained by EPIC, the FBI is to notify victims of cyberattacks "even when it may interfere with another investigation or (intelligence) operation." EPIC obtained the FBI's Victim Notification Procedures through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, EPIC v. FBI, filed earlier this year. EPIC is currently pursuing several related FOIA cases about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, including EPIC v. ODNI (Russian hacking), EPIC v. IRS (Release of Trump Tax Returns), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • EPIC Urges Congress to Examine FBI Response to Russian Cyber Attacks » (Dec. 5, 2017)
    EPIC has sent a statement to the House Judiciary Committee ahead of Thursday's FBI Oversight hearing. EPIC urged the Committee to question FBI Director Wray about the agency's ability to respond to future cyberattacks concerning the 2018 elections. A recent Associated Press investigation found that the FBI, the lead agency for cyber response, did not notify U.S. officials that their email accounts were compromised during the 2016 election. According to documents obtained by EPIC, the FBI is to notify victims of cyberattacks "even when it may interfere with another investigation or (intelligence) operation." EPIC obtained the FBI's Victim Notification Procedures through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, EPIC v. FBI, filed earlier this year. EPIC is currently pursuing several related FOIA cases about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, including EPIC v. ODNI (Russian hacking), EPIC v. IRS (Release of Trump Tax Returns), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • EPIC FOIA - Rep. Ted Lieu Asks FBI to Explain Failure to Notify Russian Hacking Victims » (Nov. 28, 2017)
    In a letter to FBI director Christopher Wray, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) asked the FBI to brief Congress on the agency's failure to notify victims targeted by the Russian hacking group Fancy Bear. Lieu's letter follows an Associated Press's (AP) investigation which found that the FBI did not notify U.S. officials that their accounts were compromised even though the FBI knew of the targeted cyber attacks and had primary responsibility in the federal government for notification. EPIC obtained the FBI's Victim Notification Procedures through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit (EPIC v. FBI) filed earlier this year. The FBI policy calls for notifying victims of cyberattacks "even when it may interfere with another investigation or (intelligence) operation." EPIC is currently pursuing several related FOIA cases about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, including EPIC v. ODNI (Russian hacking), EPIC v. IRS (Release of Trump Tax Returns), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • EPIC v. FBI: EPIC Pursues Release of Documents on Russian Meddling » (Nov. 20, 2017)
    In the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit EPIC v. FBI, EPIC has filed a motion contending the FBI must release records detailing the Russian interference in the 2016 election. EPIC explained that "a year after the election the full extent of Russian interference remains unknown to the public." EPIC also said the the FBI's failure to release documents "is contrary to law and leave at risk the security of future U.S. elections." The FBI must now file a reply to EPIC's motion. EPIC v. FBI is a part of the new EPIC Democracy and Cybersecurity Project focused on preserving democratic institutions. EPIC has filed related FOIA lawsuits against the DHS, ODNI, and IRS. EPIC also recently pressed the Federal Election Commission to establish transparency for online ads. The FEC voted unanimously to adopt new rules.
  • Senate Begins Investigation Into Russian Meddling » (Oct. 31, 2017)
    This week the Senate is holding two hearings to investigate Russians' use of social media platforms to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Today, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism is holding a hearing on "Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online: Working with Tech to Find Solutions." Representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google as well as foreign policy experts will testify. Tomorrow the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a hearing on "Social Media Influence in the 2016 U.S. Elections." In 2017, EPIC launched the Democracy and Cybersecurity project to preserve the integrity of democratic institutions. EPIC is currently pursuing several Freedom of Information Act cases to learn more about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, including: EPIC v. ODNI (Russian hacking), EPIC v. FBI (Russian hacking), EPIC v. IRS (Release of Trump Tax Returns), and EPIC v. DHS (election cybersecurity).
  • Senate Bill to Improve Transparency and Accountability for Online Political Ads » (Oct. 19, 2017)
    Several senators announced a bipartisan bill to make online political advertisements more transparent. The Honest Ads Act is a direct response to Russian interference in the 2016 election, which included political ads on Facebook, Google and Twitter. The bill, co-sponsored by Senators Klobuchar (D-MN), Warner (D-VA), and McCain (R-AZ), would impose the same disclosure requirements for online ads as for TV and radio ads. "First and foremost this is an issue of national security — Russia attacked us and will continue to use different tactics to undermine our democracy," Senator Klobuchar said. The FEC also announced on October 10 that "in light of developments" it would reopen for public comment its disclosure rules for online political ads. EPIC is fully engaged in the challenge of protecting democracy by promoting cybersecurity and election integrity. EPIC has filed several FOIA lawsuits to determine the scope of Russian interference. The cases include: EPIC v. FBI (Russian Hacking), EPIC v. ODNI (Russian Hacking), and EPIC v. IRS (Donald Trump's Tax Records).
  • EPIC, Open Government Groups Call for Release of Trump's Tax Returns » (Oct. 11, 2017)
    EPIC and a coalition of leading open government organizations have urged the Joint Committee on Taxation and the IRS Commissioner to release Donald Trump's tax returns to correct numerous misstatements of fact concerning the President's financial ties to Russia, such as "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING." These statements have been directly contradicted by his attorneys, members of his family, and various news reports. The IRS Commissioner, with the approval of the Joint Committee on Taxation, is authorized to release tax records to "correct misstatements of fact," and the agency exercised the authority ten times in one year. EPIC is also pursuing a lawsuit against the IRS after the agency failed to release Trump's tax records in response to a FOIA request. EPIC v. IRS is now pending before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • EPIC Sues Department of Homeland Security for Release of Russian Interference Records » (Oct. 4, 2017)
    EPIC has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to obtain records related to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Earlier this year, the DHS has designated state election systems as critical infrastructure and published a Joint Analysis Report acknowledging Russian interference with U.S. election systems. However, DHS has not provided any significant new information to the American public about the extent of the Russian interference. EPIC now seeks disclosure of the agency's "research, integration, analysis" related to the scope of Russian interference. EPIC's FOIA lawsuit follows H.Res. 235, a bill sponsored by Rep. Thompson (D-MS) that would have directed the DHS to provide this information to Congress, but was blocked by the House Homeland Security Committee. EPIC has filed several FOIA lawsuits to determine the scope of Russian interference. The cases include: EPIC v. FBI (Russian Hacking), EPIC v. ODNI (Russian Hacking), and EPIC v. IRS (Donald Trump's Tax Records).
  • EPIC Files Appeal to DC Circuit, Seeks Release of Trump Tax Returns » (Sep. 28, 2017)
    EPIC has appealed the decision of a federal district court which ruled that the IRS can withhold President Trump's tax records sought by EPIC under the Freedom of Information Act. EPIC had argued that the IRS has the authority to release the records to correct numerous misstatements of fact concerning the President's financial ties to Russia, such as "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING." In response to a FOIA request from EPIC, the IRS recently acknowledged that it has used this authority 10 times in one year. But the district court said the power was a "rare bird" and concluded that "until President Trump or Congress authorizes release of the tax returns, EPIC (and the rest of the American public) will remain in the dark." EPIC v. IRS is one of three leading open government cases concerning Russian interference with the 2016 Presidential election. In EPIC v. ODNI, EPIC is seeking the release of the complete report on the scope of the attack. In EPIC v. FBI, EPIC is seeking information about the FBI's response to the attack.
  • EPIC v. IRS: District Court Rules IRS May Withhold Trump Tax Records » (Aug. 18, 2017)
    A federal court in Washington, DC has ruled that the IRS may withhold President Trump's tax records sought by EPIC under the Freedom of Information Act. EPIC had argued that the IRS has the authority to release the records to correct numerous misstatements of fact concerning the President's financial ties to Russia. The President, for example, tweeted: "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA - NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!" However, the Court ruled that “until President Trump or Congress authorizes release of the tax returns, EPIC (and the rest of the American public) will remain in the dark." EPIC v. IRS is one of three leading open government cases concerning Russian interference with the 2016 Presidential election. In EPIC v. ODNI, EPIC is seeking the release of the complete report on the scope of the attack. In EPIC v. FBI, EPIC is seeking information about the FBI’s response to the attack. EPIC will continue to pursue the release of President’s Trump’s tax records and related evidence of financial relations with the Russian government.
  • EPIC to House Committee: IRS Must Release Trump Tax Records » (May. 22, 2017)
    In advance of an IRS Oversight hearing, EPIC has sent a statement to the House Appropriations Committee regarding EPIC v. IRS, the case in which EPIC is seeking release of President Trump's tax records. According to EPIC, "There has never been a more compelling FOIA request presented to the IRS." In the request to the IRS, EPIC explained that the IRS Commissioner may release tax returns to "correct misstatements of fact" and to ensure the "integrity and fairness" of the tax system. EPIC is currently pursuing several high level FOIA cases, including EPIC v. FBI and EPIC v. ODNI, to determine the scope of Russian interference with the 2016 Presidential election.
  • Following EPIC Appeal, Justice Department Submits Trump Wiretap Claims for Declassification Review » (Apr. 28, 2017)

    Following EPIC’s appeal of a decision to “neither confirm nor deny” the existence of a FISA application to monitor Trump Tower, the Justice Department took the unusual step of submitting the matter for declassification review. After the President tweeted allegations that President Obama “had [his] wires tapped in Trump Tower,” EPIC filed an urgent FOIA request for any FISA applications concerning Trump Tower. The Justice denied the request, but on appeal stated it was referring this matter “so that it may determine if the existence or nonexistence of any responsive records should remain classified.” The Justice Departement issued a similar response to EPIC’s related request concerning alleged surveillance of the Trump team. EPIC had explained in the appeal that “the agency may not hide behind the ‘neither confirm nor deny’ response” after FBI Director James Comey stated before Congress that the FBI and the Justice Department had “no information” to support the President’s tweets.

Summary

Breaking with half a century of precedent—and his own public statements during the 2016 campaign—President Donald J. Trump has refused to disclose his tax returns and related financial records. This refusal has raised widespread suspicion about the contents of the President’s financial records; conflicts between his business interests and the duties of his office; financial entanglements with foreign powers; and possible criminal conduct.

The President’s concealment of his financial records has also given rise to multiple subpoenas: one issued by a New York grand jury to Mazars USA, LLP, the accounting firm used by the President; one issued by Congress to the same firm; and a series of subpoenas issued by Congress to Deutsche Bank A.G. and Capital One, two financial institutions with which the President regularly conducts business.

The President brought actions to quash all of these subpoenas, variously arguing (1) that the President could not be subject to any form of criminal investigation during his tenure in office; and (2) that the Congressional subpoenas were not a valid exercise of Congress’s Article I power. The Second Circuit and D.C. Circuit courts of appeals rejected these arguments and upheld the validity the subpoenas. The President petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari in each instance. The Court granted all three writs in December. The cases will be argued on March 31, 2020.

The President brought actions to quash all of these subpoenas, variously arguing (1) that the President could not be subject to any form of criminal investigation during his tenure in office; and (2) that the Congressional subpoenas were not a valid exercise of Congress’s Article I power. The Second Circuit and D.C. Circuit courts of appeals rejected these arguments and upheld the validity the subpoenas. The President petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari in each instance. The Court granted all three writs in December. The cases will be argued on March 31, 2020.

On March 4, 2020, EPIC filed an amicus brief in support of the respondents in Trump v. Vance. EPIC urged the Supreme Court to allow the release of President Trump's tax returns to a grand jury. EPIC explained that President Trump broke with 40 years of precedent by concealing his tax records, even as he sought to collect sensitive voter and citizenship data from the public. "This is inverted liberty: privacy for the President and compelled disclosure of personal data for the public," EPIC argued. "That is antithetical to the structure and practice of modern democracies which safeguard the privacy of citizens and impose transparency obligations on political leaders, most notably the President."

Background

Trump v. Vance (2d Cir)

Trump v. Vance, No. 19-635 (cert. granted Dec. 13, 2019) pertains to a state grand jury subpoena for President Trump’s financial records. The case arises from a 2019 subpoena served on Mazars USA by the Manhattan District Attorney for “‘documents and communications’ . . . relating to suspected ‘hush money’ payments made to two women.” Trump v. Vance, 941 F.3d 631, 635 (2d Cir. 2019), cert. granted, No. 19-635, 2019 WL 6797730 (U.S. Dec. 13, 2019). The subpoena covers President Trump’s tax records.

President Trump filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to block enforcement of the subpoena, arguing that “the person who serves as President, while in office, enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind.” The district court dismissed the case under the doctrine of Younger abstention, a doctrine which generally requires federal courts to refrain from interfering in ongoing state criminal proceedings. The Court also noted that it found the President’s arguments “repugnant to the nation's governmental structure and constitutional values[.]” President Trump appealed.

On appeal, the Second Circuit affirmed the ruling of the district court on alternate grounds, but vacated with respect to the district court’s Younger analysis. The court of appeals concluded that it need not refrain from deciding the case at hand, but held “that presidential immunity does not bar the enforcement of a state grand jury subpoena directing a third party to produce non-privileged material, even when the subject matter under investigation pertains to the President.” The Court wrote that “[t]he President has not persuasively explained why, if executive privilege did not preclude enforcement of the subpoena issued in Nixon, the Mazars subpoena must be enjoined despite seeking no privileged information and bearing no relation to the President's performance of his official functions.”

Trump v. Mazars (D.C. Circuit)

Trump v. Mazars, No. 19-715 (U.S. cert. granted Dec. 13, 2019), arises from an April 2019 subpoena issued by House Committee on Oversight and Reform to Mazars USA, LLP. The subpoena seeks “records related to work performed for President Trump and several of his business entities both before and after he took office.” Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, 940 F.3d 710, 714 (D.C. Cir. 2019), cert. granted, No. 19-715, 2019 WL 6797734 (U.S. Dec. 13, 2019). The Committee contends that “the documents will inform its investigation into whether Congress should amend or supplement current ethics-in-government laws.” Specifically, the Committee is considering whether to revise the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which “requires many aspiring and current government officials, including presidential candidates and sitting Presidents, to file financial disclosure reports at various times during their candidacies and incumbencies.”

Shortly after the Committee issued its subpoena to Mazars, President Trump and several of his businesses filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and moved for a preliminary injunction to prohibit enforcement. The President argued that “the Oversight Committee's subpoena to Mazars exceeds the Committee's constitutional power to conduct investigations” and “that there is no legislative purpose for the subpoena.” The district court rejected these arguments, concluding that Congress’s subpoena was supported by “facially valid legislative purposes” and that “it is not for the court to question whether the Committee's actions are truly motivated by political considerations.” The court granted judgment for the Committee, and President Trump appealed.

On October 11, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court. The court of appeals held that “[c]ontrary to the President's arguments, the Committee possesses authority under both the House Rules and the Constitution to issue the subpoena, and Mazars must comply.” The court determined that the Committee “was engaged in a ‘legitimate legislative investigation,’ rather than an impermissible law-enforcement inquiry,” and that the subpoena validly “seeks information important to determining the fitness of legislation to address potential problems within the Executive Branch and the electoral system.” Accordingly, the court refused to block the subpoena.

Judge Neomi Rao filed a dissenting opinion, arguing that “[a]llowing the Committee to issue this subpoena for legislative purposes would turn Congress into a roving inquisition over a co-equal branch of government.”

Trump v. Deutsche Bank (Second Circuit)

The facts and procedural history Trump v. Deutsche Bank, No. 19-760 (U.S. cert. granted Dec. 13, 2019), largely track those of Trump v. Mazars. The case arises from three subpoenas issued by the House Committee on Financial Services and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to Deutsche Bank and Capital One. Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG, 943 F.3d 627, 632 (2d Cir. 2019), cert. granted, No. 19-760 (19A640), 2019 WL 6797733 (U.S. Dec. 13, 2019). The subpoenas seek certain financial records of President Trump, his family members, the Trump Organization, and affiliated entities.

President Trump et al. filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to block enforcement of the subpoena, arguing that it violated the Right to Financial Privacy Act, 26 U.S.C. § 6103, and the limits of Congress’s Article I power. The district court rejected these arguments and denied the President’s motion for a preliminary injunction. President Trump appealed.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit largely affirmed the ruling of the district court (though remanded in part for a procedural clarification and to allow “Appellants to object to disclosure of other specific documents”). The Second Circuit ruled (1) that the house Committees are not required to comply with the Right to Financial Privacy Act; (2) that disclosure of the President’s returns from a third party to Congress via subpoena does not violate 26 U.S.C. § 6103; and (3) that the subpoenas were a valid exercise of Congress’s legislative power.

As to the constitutional question, the court wrote that the Committees’ subpoenas served Congress’s valid legislative interests in:

[N]ational security and the integrity of elections, and, more specifically, enforcement of anti-money-laundering/counter-financing of terrorism laws, terrorist financing, the movement of illicit funds through the global financial system including the real estate market, the scope of the Russian government's operations to influence the U.S. political process, and whether the Lead Plaintiff was vulnerable to foreign exploitation.

The court also concluded that “the interests of Congress in pursuing the investigations for which the challenged subpoenas were issued substantially ‘overbalance’ the privacy interests invaded by disclosure of financial documents, including the non-official documents of the Lead Plaintiff.”

Judge Livingston filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, chiefly arguing that a fuller factual record about the subpoenaed documents was necessary to resolve the appeal.

U.S. Supreme Court

In November and December 2019, President Trump et al. petitioned the Supreme Court for writs of certiorari in Vance, Mazars, and Deutsche Bank.

The question presented in the Vance petition was as follows:

Whether a grand-jury subpoena served on a custodian of the president’s personal records, demanding production of nearly 10 years’ worth of the president’s financial papers and his tax returns, violates Article II and the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

The question presented in the Mazars petition was as follows:

Whether the Committee on Oversight and Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives has the constitutional and statutory authority to issue a subpoena to the accountant for President Trump and several of his business entities demanding private financial records belonging to the president.

No formal question was presented by the petitioners in Deutsche Bank, as the Court ultimately construed the petitioners’ stay application as a petition for certiorari.

On December 13, 2019, the Supreme Court granted all three petitions and stayed the relevant mandates of the D.C. Circuit and Second Circuit. The Court also consolidated the two Congressional subpoena cases (Mazars and Deutsche Bank). All three cases are set for oral argument on March 31, 2020.

EPIC's Interest

Since President Trump took office in January 2017, EPIC has undertaken numerous efforts to secure the public release of the President’s tax returns.

As part of EPIC’s Democracy and Cybersecurity Project, EPIC filed Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests in February and March of 2017 for the President’s returns. EPIC called on the IRS to exercise its authority under 26 U.S.C. § 6103(k)(3) to disclose an individual’s tax records in order to “correct a misstatement of fact published or disclosed with respect to such taxpayer’s return[.]” EPIC highlighted multiple misstatements of fact made by President Trump concerning his tax returns and interactions with the IRS, including misstatements concerning his financial entanglements with the Russian government. When the IRS refused to process EPIC’s FOIA request, EPIC filed suit. EPIC v. IRS, 261 F. Supp. 3d 1 (D.D.C. 2017), aff’d, 910 F.3d 1232 (D.C. Cir. 2018).

In EPIC v. IRS II, EPIC has filed a separate FOIA request and lawsuit for certain of President Trump’s personal and business tax records pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 6103(k)(1). That provision requires the IRS to disclose records of “offers-in-compromise,” which are administrative settlements of outstanding tax liabilities. EPIC is currently awaiting a ruling from the district court on the IRS’s motion to dismiss EPIC’s complaint.

EPIC has also made efforts beyond the FOIA to effect the public release of the President’s returns. In December 2018, EPIC wrote to the House Committee on Ways and Means, the Joint Committee on Taxation, and the Senate Finance Committee urging the committees to exercise their authority under 26 U.S.C. § 6103 to obtain the President’s returns from the IRS. When the House Committee on Ways and Means took that advice and demanded the President’s returns under § 6103(f), EPIC applauded the decision and filed a FOIA request for records of communications between the IRS and the Committee. And EPIC President Marc Rotenberg has written about the double standard exhibited by President Trump in demanding public disclosure of personal voter data while refusing to disclose his tax returns.

Legal Documents

Trump v. Vance

U.S. Supreme Court, (No. 19-635)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 941 F.3d 631 (2d Cir. 2019) (No. 19-3204) U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 395 F. Supp. 3d 283 (S.D.N.Y. 2019) (No. 19-8694)

Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP

U.S. Supreme Court, (No. 19-715)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, 930 F.3d 710 (D.C. Cir. 2019) (No. 19-5142) U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 380 F. Supp. 3d 76 (D.D.C. 2019) (No. 19-1136)

Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG

U.S. Supreme Court, (No. 19-760)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 943 F.3d 627 (2d Cir. 2019) (No. 19-1540) U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 19-3826, 2019 WL 2204898 (S.D.N.Y. 2019)

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