Two centuries of experience likewise confirm that a properly tailored criminal subpoena will not normally hamper the performance of a President's constitutional duties.
While we certainly recognize Congress's important interests in obtaining information through appropriate inquiries, those interests are not sufficiently powerful to justify access to the President's personal papers when other sources could provide Congress the information it needs.
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at Page 21 of the Supreme Court OpinionTwo 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. 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. . . .
In 2019, the New York County District Attorney's Office-acting on behalf of a grand jury-served a subpoena duces tecum on Mazars USA, LLP, the personal accounting firm of President Donald J. Trump, for financial records relating to the President and his businesses. The President, acting in his personal capacity, sued the district attorney and Mazars in Federal District Court to enjoin enforcement of the subpoena, arguing that a sitting President enjoys absolute immunity from state criminal process under Article II and the Supremacy Clause. The District Court dismissed the case under the abstention doctrine of Younger v. Harris, 401 U. S. 37, and, in the alternative, held that the President was not entitled to injunctive relief. The Second Circuit rejected the District Court's dismissal under Younger but agreed with the court's denial of injunctive relief, concluding that presidential immunity did not bar enforcement of the subpoena and rejecting the argument of the United States as amicus curiae that a state grand jury subpoena seeking the President's documents must satisfy a heightened showing of need.Held: Article II and the Supremacy Clause do not categorically preclude, or require a heightened standard for, the issuance of a state criminal subpoena to a sitting President. Pp. 3-22.
(a) In 1807, John Marshall, presiding as Circuit Justice for Virginia over the treason trial of Aaron Burr, granted Burr's motion for a subpoena duces tecum directed at President Jefferson. In rejecting the prosecution's argument that a President was not subject to such a subpoena, Marshall held that a President does not "stand exempt" from the Sixth Amendment's guarantee that the accused have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses for their defense. United States v Burr, 25 F. Cas. 30, 33-34. The sole argument for an exemption was that a President's "duties as chief magistrate demand his whole time for national objects." Ibid. But, in Marshall's assessment, those duties were "not unremitting," ibid., and any conflict could be addressed by the court upon return of the subpoena. Marshall also concluded that the Sixth Amendment's guarantee extended to the production of papers. "[T]he propriety of introducing any papers," he explained, would "depend on the character of the paper, not the character of the person who holds it," and would have "due consideration" upon the return of the subpoena. Id., at 34, 37. Jefferson agreed to furnish whatever justice required, subject to the prerogative to decide whether particular executive communications should be withheld.In the two centuries since Burr, successive Presidents from Monroe to Clinton have accepted Marshall's ruling that the Chief Executive is subject to subpoena and have uniformly agreed to testify when called in criminal proceedings.In 1974, the question whether to compel the disclosure of official communications over the President's objection came to a head when the Watergate Special Prosecutor secured a subpoena duces tecum directing President Nixon to produce, among other things, tape recordings of Oval Office meetings. This Court rejected Nixon's claim of an absolute privilege of confidentiality for all presidential communications. Recognizing that "compulsory process" was imperative for both the prosecution and the defense, the Court held that the President's "generalized assertion of privilege must yield to the demonstrated, specific need for evidence in a pending criminal trial." United States v. Nixon, 418 U. S. 683, 713. President Nixon dutifully released the tapes. Pp. 3-10.(b) This history all involved federal criminal proceedings. Here, the President claims that the Supremacy Clause gives a sitting President absolute immunity from state criminal subpoenas because compliance with such subpoenas would categorically impair the performance of his Article II functions. The Solicitor General, arguing on behalf of the United States, claims that a state grand jury subpoena for a sitting President's personal records must, at the very least, meet a heightened standard of need. Pp. 10-22.
(1) The President's unique duties as head of the Executive Branch come with protections that safeguard his ability to perform his vital functions. The Constitution also guarantees "the entire independence of the General Government from any control by the respective States." Farmers and Mechanics Sav. Bank of Minneapolis v. Minnesota, 232 U. S. 516, 521. Marshall's ruling in Burr, entrenched by 200 years of practice and this Court's decision in Nixon, confirms that federal criminal subpoenas do not "rise to the level of constitutionally forbidden impairment of the Executive's ability to perform its constitutionally mandated functions." Clinton v. Jones, 520 U. S. 681, 702-703. But the President claims that state criminal subpoenas necessarily pose a unique threat of impairment and thus require absolute immunity. His categorical argument focuses on three burdens: diversion, stigma, and harassment. Pp. 10-17.(i) The President contends that complying with state criminal subpoenas would necessarily distract the Chief Executive from his duties. He grounds that concern on Nixon v. Fitzgerald, which recognized a President's "absolute immunity from damages liability predicated on his official acts." 457 U. S. 731, 749. But, contrary to the President's suggestion, that case did not hold that distraction was sufficient to confer absolute immunity. Indeed, the Court expressly rejected immunity based on distraction alone 15 years later in Clinton v. Jones, when President Clinton sought absolute immunity from civil liability for private acts. As the Court explained, Fitzgerald's "dominant concern" was not mere distraction but the distortion of the Executive's "decisionmaking process." 520 U. S., at 694, n. 19. The prospect that a President may become "preoccupied by pending litigation" did not ordinarily implicate constitutional concerns. Id., at 705, n. 40. Two centuries of experience likewise confirm that a properly tailored criminal subpoena will not normally hamper the performance of a President's constitutional duties.The President claims this case is different. He believes that he is under investigation and argues that the toll will necessarily be heavier in that circumstance. But the President is not seeking immunity from the diversion occasioned by the prospect of future criminal liability. He concedes that he may be investigated while in office. His objection is instead limited to the additional distraction caused by the subpoena itself. That argument, however, runs up against the 200 years of precedent establishing that Presidents, and their official communications, are subject to judicial process, see Burr, 25 F. Cas., at 34, even when the President is under investigation, see Nixon, 418 U. S., at 706. Pp. 12-14.(ii) The President next claims that the stigma of being subpoenaed will undermine his leadership at home and abroad. But even if a tarnished reputation were a cognizable impairment, there is nothing inherently stigmatizing about a President performing "the citizen's normal duty of . . . furnishing information relevant" to a criminal investigation. Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U. S. 665, 691. Nor can the risk of association with persons or activities under criminal investigation absolve a President of such an important public duty. The consequences for a President's public standing will likely increase if he is the one under investigation, but the President concedes that such investigations are permitted under Article II and the Supremacy Clause. And the receipt of a subpoena would not seem to categorically magnify the harm to the President's reputation. Additionally, in the grand jury context longstanding secrecy rules aim to prevent the very stigma the President anticipates. Pp. 14-15.(iii) Finally, the President argues that subjecting Presidents to state criminal subpoenas will make them "easily identifiable target[s]" for harassment. Fitzgerald, 457 U. S., at 753. The Court rejected a nearly identical argument in Clinton, concluding that the risk posed by harassing civil litigation was not "serious" because federal courts have the tools to deter and dismiss vexatious lawsuits. 520 U. S., at 708. Harassing state criminal subpoenas could, under certain circumstances, threaten the independence or effectiveness of the Executive. But here again the law already seeks to protect against such abuse. First, grand juries are prohibited from engaging in "arbitrary fishing expeditions" or initiating investigations "out of malice or an intent to harass," United States v. R. Enterprises, Inc., 498 U. S. 292, 299, and federal courts may intervene in state proceedings that are motivated by or conducted in bad faith. Second, because the Supremacy Clause prohibits state judges and prosecutors from interfering with a President's official duties, any effort to manipulate a President's policy decisions or to retaliate against a President for official acts through issuance of a subpoena would be an unconstitutional attempt to "influence" a superior sovereign "exempt" from such obstacles, see McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 417. And federal law allows a President to challenge any such allegedly unconstitutional influence in a federal forum. Pp. 15-17.(2) A state grand jury subpoena seeking a President's private papers need not satisfy a heightened need standard, for three reasons. First, although a President cannot be treated as an "ordinary individual" when executive communications are sought, Burr teaches that, with regard to private papers, a President stands in "nearly the same situation with any other individual." 25 F. Cas., at 191-192. Second, there has been no showing here that heightened protection against state subpoenas is necessary for the Executive to fulfill his Article II functions. Finally, absent a need to protect the Executive, the public interest in fair and effective law enforcement cuts in favor of comprehensive access to evidence.Rejecting a heightened need standard does not leave Presidents without recourse. A President may avail himself of the same protections available to every other citizen, including the right to challenge the subpoena on any grounds permitted by state law, which usually include bad faith and undue burden or breadth. When the President invokes such protections, "[t]he high respect that is owed to the office of the Chief Executive . . . should inform the conduct of the entire proceeding, including the timing and scope of discovery." Clinton, 520 U. S., at 707. In addition, a President can raise subpoena-specific constitutional challenges in either a state or a federal forum. As noted above, he can challenge the subpoena as an attempt to influence the performance of his official duties, in violation of the Supremacy Clause. And he can argue that compliance with a particular subpoena would impede his constitutional duties. Pp. 17-21.
941 F. 3d 631, affirmed and remanded.ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. KAVANAUGH, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which GORSUCH, J., joined. THOMAS, J., and ALITO, J., filed dissenting opinions.
Unlike in criminal proceedings, where "[t]he very integrity of the judicial system" would be undermined without "full disclosure of all the facts," Nixon, 418 U. S., at 709, efforts to craft legislation involve predictive policy judgments that are "not hamper[ed] . . . in quite the same way" when every scrap of potentially relevant evidence is not available, Cheney, 542 U. S., at 384; see Senate Select Committee, 498 F. 2d, at 732. While we certainly recognize Congress's important interests in obtaining information through appropriate inquiries, those interests are not sufficiently powerful to justify access to the President's personal papers when other sources could provide Congress the information it needs.
In April 2019, three committees of the U. S. House of Representatives issued four subpoenas seeking information about the finances of President Donald J. Trump, his children, and affiliated businesses. The House Committee on Financial Services issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank seeking any document related to account activity, due diligence, foreign transactions, business statements, debt schedules, statements of net worth, tax returns, and suspicious activity identified by Deutsche Bank. It issued a second subpoena to Capital One for similar information. The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank that mirrored the subpoena issued by the Financial Services Committee. And the House Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a subpoena to the President's personal accounting firm, Mazars USA, LLP, demanding information related to the President and several affiliated businesses. Although each of the committees sought overlapping sets of financial documents, each supplied different justifications for the requests, explaining that the information would help guide legislative reform in areas ranging from money laundering and terrorism to foreign involvement in U. S. elections. Petitioners-the President in his personal capacity, along with his children and affiliated businesses-contested the subpoena issued by the Oversight Committee in the District Court for the District of Columbia (Mazars, No. 19-715) and the subpoenas issued by the Financial Services and Intelligence Committees in the Southern District of New York (Deutsche Bank, No. 19-760). In both cases, petitioners contended that the subpoenas lacked a legitimate legislative purpose and violated the separation of powers. The President did not, however, argue that any of the requested records were protected by executive privilege.In Mazars, the District Court granted judgment for the House and the D. C. Circuit affirmed, finding that the subpoena issued by the Oversight Committee served a valid legislative purpose because the requested information was relevant to reforming financial disclosure requirements for Presidents and presidential candidates. In Deutsche Bank, the District Court denied a preliminary injunction and the Second Circuit affirmed in substantial part, holding that the Intelligence Committee properly issued its subpoena to Deutsche Bank as part of an investigation into alleged foreign influence in the U. S. political process, which could inform legislation to strengthen national security and combat foreign meddling. The court also concluded that the subpoenas issued by the Financial Services Committee to Deutsche Bank and Capital One were adequately related to potential legislation on money laundering, terrorist financing, and the global movement of illicit funds through the real estate market.Held: The courts below did not take adequate account of the significant separation of powers concerns implicated by congressional subpoenas for the President's information. Pp. 7-20.
(a) Historically, disputes over congressional demands for presidential documents have been resolved by the political branches through negotiation and compromise without involving this Court. The Court recognizes that this dispute is the first of its kind to reach the Court; that such disputes can raise important issues concerning relations between the branches; that similar disputes recur on a regular basis, including in the context of deeply partisan controversy; and that Congress and the Executive have nonetheless managed for over two centuries to resolve these disputes among themselves without Supreme Court guidance. Such longstanding practice "‘is a consideration of great weight' " in cases concerning "the allocation of power between [the] two elected branches of Government," and it imposes on the Court a duty of care to ensure that it does not needlessly disturb "the compromises and working arrangements" reached by those branches. NLRB v. Noel Canning, 573 U. S. 513, 524-526 (quoting The Pocket Veto Case, 279 U. S. 655, 689). Pp. 7-11.(b) Each House of Congress has the power "to secure needed information" in order to legislate. McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U. S. 135, 161. This power is "indispensable" because, without information, Congress would be unable to legislate wisely or effectively. Watkins v. United States, 354 U. S. 178, 215. Because this power is "justified solely as an adjunct to the legislative process," it is subject to several limitations. Id., at 197. Most importantly, a congressional subpoena is valid only if it is "related to, and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of the Congress." Id., at 187. The subpoena must serve a "valid legislative purpose." Quinn v. United States, 349 U. S. 155, 161. Furthermore, Congress may not issue a subpoena for the purpose of "law enforcement," because that power is assigned to the Executive and the Judiciary. Ibid. Finally, recipients of congressional subpoenas retain their constitutional rights and various privileges throughout the course of an investigation. Pp. 11-12.(c) The President contends, as does the Solicitor General on behalf of the United States, that congressional subpoenas for the President's information should be evaluated under the standards set forth in United States v. Nixon, 418 U. S. 683, and Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities v. Nixon, 498 F. 2d 725, which would require the House to show that the requested information satisfies a "demonstrated, specific need," 418 U. S., at 713, and is "demonstrably critical" to a legislative purpose, 498 F. 2d, at 731. Nixon and Senate Select Committee, however, involved subpoenas for communications between the President and his close advisers, over which the President asserted executive privilege. Because executive privilege safeguards the public interest in candid, confidential deliberations within the Executive Branch, information subject to the privilege deserves "the greatest protection consistent with the fair administration of justice." 418 U. S., at 715. That protection should not be transplanted root and branch to cases involving nonprivileged, private information, which by definition does not implicate sensitive Executive Branch deliberations. The standards proposed by the President and the Solicitor General- if applied outside the context of privileged information-would risk seriously impeding Congress in carrying out its responsibilities, giving short shrift to its important interests in conducting inquiries to obtain information needed to legislate effectively. Pp. 12-14.(d) The approach proposed by the House, which relies on precedents that did not involve the President's papers, fails to take adequate account of the significant separation of powers issues raised by congressional subpoenas for the President's information. The House's approach would leave essentially no limits on the congressional power to subpoena the President's personal records. A limitless subpoena power could transform the established practice of the political branches and allow Congress to aggrandize itself at the President's expense. These separation of powers concerns are unmistakably implicated by the subpoenas here, which represent not a run-of-the-mill legislative effort but rather a clash between rival branches of government over records of intense political interest for all involved. The interbranch conflict does not vanish simply because the subpoenas seek personal papers or because the President sued in his personal capacity. Nor are separation of powers concerns less palpable because the subpoenas were issued to third parties. Pp. 14-18.(e) Neither side identifies an approach that adequately accounts for these weighty separation of powers concerns. A balanced approach is necessary, one that takes a "considerable impression" from "the practice of the government," McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 401, and "resist[s]" the "pressure inherent within each of the separate Branches to exceed the outer limits of its power," INS v. Chadha, 462 U. S. 919, 951. In assessing whether a subpoena directed at the President's personal information is "related to, and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of the Congress," Watkins, 354 U. S., at 187, courts must take adequate account of the separation of powers principles at stake, including both the significant legislative interests of Congress and the unique position of the President.Several special considerations inform this analysis. First, courts should carefully assess whether the asserted legislative purpose warrants the significant step of involving the President and his papers. " ‘[O]ccasion[s] for constitutional confrontation between the two branches' should be avoided whenever possible." Cheney v. United States Dist. Court for D. C., 542 U. S. 367, 389-390 (quoting Nixon, 418 U. S., at 692). Congress may not rely on the President's information if other sources could reasonably provide Congress the information it needs in light of its particular legislative objective. Second, to narrow the scope of possible conflict between the branches, courts should insist on a subpoena no broader than reasonably necessary to support Congress's legislative objective. The specificity of the subpoena's request "serves as an important safeguard against unnecessary intrusion into the operation of the Office of the President." Cheney, 542 U. S., at 387. Third, courts should be attentive to the nature of the evidence offered by Congress to establish that a subpoena advances a valid legislative purpose. The more detailed and substantial, the better. That is particularly true when Congress contemplates legislation that raises sensitive constitutional issues, such as legislation concerning the Presidency. Fourth, courts should assess the burdens imposed on the President by a subpoena, particularly because they stem from a rival political branch that has an ongoing relationship with the President and incentives to use subpoenas for institutional advantage. Other considerations may be pertinent as well; one case every two centuries does not afford enough experience for an exhaustive list. Pp. 18-20.
No. 19-715, 940 F. 3d 710; No. 19-760, 943 F. 3d 627, vacated and remanded.ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, GORSUCH, and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined. Cite as: 591 U. S. ____ (2020)THOMAS, J., and ALITO, J., filed dissenting opinions
In a plea agreement, Schultz admitted that she met her victim at the senior apartment complex in Dubuque that Schultz managed. The victim lived alone and had no family. In December 2010, the victim was admitted to a Dubuque nursing home after suffering a stroke and a fall. Afterwards, her physical and cognitive abilities abruptly declined such that she could no longer live at the apartment complex. In April 2011, the victim signed a power of attorney form that purported to give Schultz full authority to manage the victim's financial affairs. However, the power of attorney expressly stated that defendant was not permitted to make any gifts to herself.From April 2011 through January 2015, Schultz used the power of attorney to steal nearly $60,000 from the victim. Schultz used this money to buy Green Bay Packer football tickets and pay for other personal expenses. Schultz purchased $24,000 in gift certificates, which she then used for a major home improvement project. At one point, the victim no longer had the necessary funds to support her stay in the nursing home. The Iowa Medicaid program began paying for the victim's care at the nursing home. Schultz told Iowa Medicaid that the victim had not sold or given away anything of value in the months preceding her application for benefits.
manufacture, promote, and sell Miracle Mineral Solution ("MMS"), a chemical solution containing sodium chlorite and water. The Grenons allegedly directed their customers to ingest MMS orally, which causes the solution to become chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleach, typically used for industrial water treatment or bleaching textiles, pulp, and paper. FDA has received reports of people requiring hospitalizations, developing life-threatening conditions, and dying after drinking MMS.According to the affidavit, the Grenons claim that MMS can treat, prevent, and cure COVID-19. The FDA, however, has not approved MMS for treatment of COVID-19, or for any other use. Rather, in prior official warning statements, the FDA has strongly urged consumers not to purchase or use MMS, explaining that drinking MMS is the same as drinking bleach and can cause dangerous side effects, including severe vomiting, diarrhea, and life-threatening low blood pressure. See https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/danger-dont-drink-miracle-mineral-solution-or-similar-products.The affidavit also alleges that, before marketing MMS as a cure for COVID-19, the Grenons marketed MMS as a miracle cure-all for dozens of other serious diseases and disorders, including cancer, Alzheimer's, autism, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, even though the FDA had not approved MMS for any use. The Grenons allegedly sold tens of thousands of bottles of MMS nationwide, including to consumers throughout South Florida. They sold this dangerous product under the guise of Genesis II Church of Health and Healing ("Genesis"), an entity they allegedly created in an attempt to avoid government regulation of MMS. According to the charging documents, Genesis' own websites describe Genesis as a "non-religious church," and Defendant Mark Grenon, the co-founder of Genesis, has repeatedly acknowledged that Genesis "has nothing to do with religion," and that he founded Genesis to "legalize the use of MMS" and avoid "going [ ] to jail."In addition to charging these defendants with federal conspiracy, the complaint also charges the Grenons with criminal contempt. The United States previously filed a civil case against the defendants and Genesis II Church of Health and Healing. See United States v. Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, et al., Case No. 20-21601-CV-WILLIAMS. In that civil case, the United States obtained court orders halting the Grenons' distribution of MMS. The criminal charges against the Grenons allege that they willfully violated these court orders. According to the complaint affidavit, the Grenons sent letters to the judge presiding over the civil case saying that they would not comply with the Court's orders. The Grenons also threatened violence in the letters. The criminal complaint affidavit quotes from these letters.
[F]rom at least September 2019 to the present, Walsh fraudulently solicited members of the public for the purported purpose of trading foreign currency (forex) on their behalves. Using primarily social-media platforms, Walsh fraudulently marketed himself to the public as a highly successfully forex trader who earned "average monthly returns of 8% - 11%" or "a flat 3% guaranteed profit each month" for his clients. To achieve these fictitious results, Walsh falsely claimed to have access to "legal, inside information" about the direction in which forex markets will move. As alleged, Walsh has no U.S.-based forex trading accounts.The complaint further alleges that, after he received a cease and desist letter from the Texas State Securities Board related to his fraudulent solicitations, Walsh falsely represented that he was earning even greater trading profits now that the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted the financial markets, claiming that "the returns in forex continue to grow as the rest of the financial world continues to suffer."
[M]irror Trading is concealing material information from potential investors, including important information about Steynberg, its forex brokers, its handling of cryptocurrencies, the artificial intelligence used to place trades and the significant risks associated with the product.The order also accuses Mirror Trading of perpetrating the fraud though an illegal international multilevel marketing program. According to the order, in furtherance of the scheme, Mirror Trading is recruiting unregistered securities salespersons by promising to pay up to four streams of lucrative commissions. The actual value of the commissions depends on their success in recruiting new investors and multilevel marketers.According to the order, Mirror Trading is boasting the accomplishments of its multilevel marketers, claiming it has now enrolled almost 76,000 members from more than 170 countries, including more than 22,500 since March 1, 2020.Commissioner Iles named four multilevel marketers in the order: ForexAndBitcoin.com, Michael Cullison, Steve Herceg and Brian Knott. He accused them of illegally soliciting Texans by violating state law that requires the registration of securities and sellers of securities. The order also accused Mirror Trading and Steynberg of violating the same state laws.