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

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The apocalypse scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.

Federal judge rules Trump administration can't end census early

Census workers outside Lincoln Center in New York. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled late Thursday that the Trump administration could not end the 2020 census a month early.

Why it matters: The decision states that an early end — on Sept. 30, instead of Oct. 31 — would likely produce inaccuracies and thus impact political representation and government funding around the country.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Where bringing students back to school is most risky

Data: Coders Against COVID; Note: Rhode Island and Puerto Rico did not meet minimum testing thresholds for analysis. Values may not add to 100% due to rounding; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Schools in Southern and Midwestern states are most at risk of coronavirus transmission, according to an analysis by Coders Against COVID that uses risk indicators developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The big picture: Thankfully, schools have not yet become coronavirus hotspots, the Washington Post reported this week, and rates of infection are lower than in the surrounding communities. But that doesn't mean schools are in the clear, especially heading into winter.

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