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Photo: Steven Ferdman/WireImage

President Trump on Thursday filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling compelling his longtime accounting firm Mazars USA to turn over his tax returns to the Manhattan district attorney.

Why it matters: The request, which was expected, marks a significant escalation of the president's fight to stop prosecutors and Congress from obtaining his financial records — one that will test the limits of Trump's argument that he is immune from criminal investigation while in office.

The backdrop: The legal fight over Trump's tax returns started in August when Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. subpoenaed Mazars as part of a criminal investigation into allegations that the Trump Organization made hush money payments during the 2016 presidential election to two women who had affairs with Trump.

  • Vance requested the president's tax returns and those of his family business dating back to 2011.
  • Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer, is currently serving out a three-year sentence for campaign finance violations for making a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels and a $150,000 payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal on the condition that they did not reveal their past relationships with Trump.
  • Vance is investigating whether the Trump Organization falsely listed its reimbursement of Cohen for the $130,000 payment to Daniels as a legal expense.

The big picture: Trump has filed at least three lawsuits to block the release of his tax returns. The president, his family and his company also filed a lawsuit against Deutsche Bank to block the bank from complying with congressional subpoenas for their business records.

What they're saying:

"We have filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn the Second Circuit decision regarding a subpoena issued by the New York County District Attorney. The Second Circuit decision is wrong and should be reversed. In our petition, we assert that the subpoena violates the U.S. Constitution and therefore is unenforceable. We are hoping that the Supreme Court will grant review in this significant constitutional case and reverse the dangerous and damaging decision of the appeals court."
— Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow

Read the filing

Go deeper: Trump lawyer argues the president can't be prosecuted for shooting someone

Go deeper

Democrat Mark Kelly sworn in to U.S. Senate

Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Astronaut Mark Kelly (D) was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday after defeating incumbent Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) last month for the seat once held by the late Sen. John McCain.

Why it matters: Kelly's swearing-in by Vice President Mike Pence narrows the Republican majority and moves the Senate balance to 52-48.

Senate Armed Services chair dismisses Trump threat to veto defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters Wednesday that he plans to move ahead with a crucial defense-spending bill without provisions that would eliminate tech industry protections, defying a veto threat from President Trump.

Why it matters: Inhofe's public rebuke signals that the Senate could have enough Republican backing to override a potential veto from Trump, who has demanded that the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Scoop: Uber in talks to sell air taxi business to Joby

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Uber is in advanced talks to sell its Uber Elevate unit to Joby Aviation, Axios has learned from multiple sources. A deal could be announced later this month.

Between the lines: Uber Elevate was formed to develop a network of self-driving air taxis, but to date has been most notable for its annual conference devoted to the nascent industry.