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Supreme Court Justice Hits Back at Trump's Lawyer: He Is Not 'Above the Law'

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After months of jockeying through lesser courts, the Supreme Court finally began hearing arguments this week over whether to President Donald Trump can keep his tax returns from Congressional committees and the Manhattan district attorney.

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow argued, “This court has long recognize that the president is not to be treated as an ordinary citizen. He has responsibilities — he is, himself, a branch of government. He is the only individual that is a branch of government in our federal system.”

Sekulow continued, “Our position is that the Constitution itself, both in structure and text, supports the position that the president would be temporarily immune from this activity from a state proceeding while he is the President of the United States.”

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor was not buying that argument, saying, “I’m not sure why he’s entitled to more immunity for private acts than he should be for public acts.”

Sekulow noted that “he is the President of the United States.” But Sotomayor still seemed bemused, saying, “We only give judicial officers and congressional officers immunity for acts within their official capacity.”

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Justice Elena Kagan quickly added, “It’s also true and indeed a fundamental precept of our conditional order that a president isn’t above the law. From our first days, Chief Justice Marshall told Thomas Jefferson that he could be subpoenaed, he could be examined as a witness, he could be required to produce papers.”

Trump’s lawyers argued essentially that as president, he is protected from most legal proceedings. Trump attorney Patrick Strawbridge argued, “What we’re seeking here is presidential finances.”

But Sotomayor retorted, “Not presidential finances, we’re asking for his personal tax returns before he became president. Those are very different things and we’re not asking him to produce it,” she also noted that subpoenas are not to Trump but to accountants and financial institutions.

The legal battle escalated in late 2019 when an appeals court determined that Deutsche Bank and Capital One are legally required to comply with the congressional subpoenas.

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