Federal appeals court upholds House Democrats' subpoena for President Trump's financial info

Trump Tax Documents Must Be Turned Over To Congress, Appeals Court Says

He rejected the president's claims that the committee was on an untenable fishing expedition, and that it needed a more firm grant of power by Congress to pursue the information.

That appeals court, in a 2-1 decision, upheld the lower court's ruling on Friday.

Tatel and Millett cite former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis's 1926 argument that the objective of separation of powers is "not to avoid friction, but, by means of the inevitable friction incident to the distribution of the governmental powers among three departments, to save the people from autocracy".

Rep Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House committee that is seeking the records, called for prompt compliance. A ruling in the president's favor in this case would have been "a very significant change in the balance of power, because it would represent a significant narrowing of congressional subpoena power", said David Sklansky, a law professor at Stanford University.

The House oversight committee subpoenaed records from Mazars in April. They include documents from 2011 to 2018 that the House wants for investigation into the president's reporting of his finances and potential conflicts of interest.

Trump is separately trying to prevent NY state prosecutors from enforcing a subpoena against Mazars for eight years of his tax returns. U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero earlier Monday was unsparing toward the president's legal team as he dismissed Trump's lawsuit seeking to block the subpoena.


The court's 66-page majority opinion, authored by Judges David Tatel Patricia Millett, rejects Trump's argument that House Democrats' subpoena lacks legislative objective and stresses that Congress has the constitutional authority to conduct oversight of the president.

Perhaps anticipating future battles, Judge Rao pointed out that in the 1998 pursuit of impeachment against President Clinton, the full House had a floor vote to authorize an inquiry.

In her dissent, Rao said the court's opinion blurred the "consistent line" between Congress' legislative powers and its impeachment powers. The judges added that "in issuing the challenged subpoena, the Committee was engaged in a 'legitimate legislative investigation'".

An administration official with knowledge of the case said Friday that Trump will 'in all likelihood be headed to the Supreme Court for [legal] relief'.

On running for the White House, Trump broke with precedent, if not law, in not releasing any information about his tax affairs. Along with possible appeals in this case, a federal appeals court in NY is weighing a similar request for records from Trump's bankers at Capital One Financial Corp. and Deutsche Bank AG.

A federal judge in Manhattan had denied Trump's effort to block the subpoena. Efforts to obtain Trump tax returns through the courts continue in various jurisdictions. Trump argued that Congress's request had no legitimate legislative goal and should be rejected. His lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that Congress had no legitimate legislative goal for getting the materials.

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