Trump v. Mazars

Case Summary

Mazars is an accounting firm that does taxes for Donald Trump and his companies. Congress subpoenaed them for the tax returns of President Trump and his companies as part of an investigation into whether the Ethics in Government Act was fulfilling its purpose.

Part of the law requires presidents to tell Congress certain details about their finances, and there was clear proof that the president had lied on his disclosure forms (he didn’t disclose his hush money payment to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford), calling the efficacy of the law into question. Congress subpoenaed Mazars to see if he had lied anywhere else, which would help inform Congress whether the law was working as intended.

The courts have long acknowledged that Congress has broad oversight powers that are essential for it to function. Acknowledging our system of checks and balances, they have made exceptions for the president when it comes to the official duties of the office. But regarding their personal lives, presidents have the same obligations as any other citizen. President Trump does not have the right to stop Congress from doing its job.


Though not as emphatic in their repudiation of President Trump’s shell game as in Vance, in Mazars, the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, expressly rejected the president’s most extreme arguments for immunity from congressional subpoena and provided a new testing process for the legality of congressional subpoenas, leaving the path open for the House to continue to pursue the president’s financial records. 

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts reaffirmed congressional authority and the separation of powers, writing that affirming the immunity claimed by President Trump “would risk seriously impeding Congress in carrying out its responsibilities . . . giving short shrift to Congress’s important interests in conducting inquiries to obtain the information it needs to legislate effectively.”

Case Information
  • Subpoena issued by Congress: April 15, 2019
  • Lawsuit filed by Trump: April 22, 2019
  • Appeals Court Decision: October 11, 2019
  • Supreme Court Decision: July 9, 2020