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WaPo, NYT Move to Unseal Names on Deutsche Bank’s Redacted Letter


A coalition of media outlets filed a motion in federal court on Wednesday seeking to unseal the redacted names on documents provided by Deutsche Bank relating to President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

The “motion to intervene and to unseal judicial records,” submitted by attorneys representing The Associated Press, The New York Times, CNN, Politico, and The Washington Post (the Coalition), contends that the public has a constitutional right to know the interested parties involved in litigation over President Trump’s tax returns.

“Deutsche Bank recently informed the Court that it has tax returns relating to some of the Trump-related entities or individuals, but redacted the names of these entities and/or individuals from its submission to the Court,” the motion states. “Through this motion, [The Coalition] seek to enforce the public’s First Amendment and common law rights of access to judicial proceedings and the records therein, specifically, to unseal the redacted names so as to be able to inform the public which persons’ or entities’ tax returns are at issue in this litigation.”

The Coalition argued that because the Deutsche Bank Letter is part of the judicial record the First Amendment grants the public a right to access the totality of the information it contains, unless its proven on-the-record that its continued confidentiality is narrowly tailored to protect a compelling interest.

Attorneys for Deutsche Bank have defended the redactions as being required under regulatory and contractual provisions guaranteeing the confidentiality of its clients’ information. But The Coalition argued that the bank’s provided reason does not withstand scrutiny.

“There is no basis in the record for a finding that the redacting of the names in the Deutsche Bank Letter is necessary to protect a compelling interest that would overcome the public’s rights of access,” the motion said. “There is no genuine privacy concern implicated by Deutsche Bank confirming what is already widely understood- that it has copies of certain of the President’s or his affiliates’ financial records – but it would set a disturbing precedent to allow redactions of such rudimentary facts to go unchallenged, particularly in a case involving a sitting president.”

The Coalition also argued that under the common law right to access, the court should weigh the public’s inherent right to the information against the legitimate interest of the parties, noting that the balance here “tips decisively in favor of the public.”

[image via Mark-Wilson_Getty-Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.