Obama Judge: Congress Can Subpoena Trump’s Personal Finances

President Donald Trump waves after stepping off Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, May 17, 2019, in Washington. Trump is returning from a trip to New York.Alex Brandon / AP
Alex Brandon / AP

Another federal judge appointed by Barack Obama has ruled that House Democrats can subpoena President Donald Trump’s personal and business finance records, with Wednesday’s decision from New York following on the heels of a similar Monday ruling from a court in Washington, D.C.

House Democrats are pursuing members of the president’s family and private family-owned businesses, demanding banking records and financial statements. As part of this partisan attack strategy, two committees in the U.S. House of Representatives controlled by Democrats – the Financial Services Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence – issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Capitol One Bank for at least ten years of records involving President Trump’s children, the children’s spouses, and various family businesses including the Trump Organization.

Those committees are led by two of the most partisan actors in Congress: Rep. Maxine Waters chairs the Finance Committee and Rep. Adam Schiff chairs the Intelligence Committee. Both California Democrats have been outspoken in their fierce opposition to the president. Waters was among the first Democrats demanding the president’s impeachment. Schiff claimed to have evidence that President Trump colluded with the Russians, though he has refused to produce such evidence and Special Counsel Robert Mueller found none.

The Trump family hired the powerhouse boutique law firm Consovoy McCarthy Park to fight the subpoenas in court. Lead counsel William Consovoy, a former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas and a rising conservative star in national legal circles, filed suit in federal district court in New York City, seeking a preliminary injunction to block the subpoenas.

On Wednesday, Judge Edgardo Ramos denied the request for an injunction. Ramos wrote in his 25-page opinion that these subpoenas are part of “the power of Congress to conduct investigations … inherent in the legislative process.”

This is the second such ruling this week. The House Oversight Committee subpoenaed accounting records on Donald Trump’s personal finances and business records held by an accounting company. On Monday, Judge Amit Mehta ruled that subpoena is likewise valid.

In both cases, House Democrats argued that they wanted these records merely to inform their decision on whether to strengthen federal ethics and disclosure laws. Consovoy’s team argued that the Democrats’ argument is a pretext covering their true motivation of seeking to embarrass and politically damage the president.

Both Ramos and Mehta were appointed by Barack Obama. Ramos’s decision will now go to the Second Circuit appeals court, and the president’s lawyers will appeal the other decision to the D.C. Circuit appeals court.

These cases’ fate is uncertain in both appellate courts, which are currently left of center in terms of judicial philosophy. One or more of these cases could end up before the Supreme Court.

A third lawsuit, seeking to keep House Democrats from obtaining President Trump’s personal tax returns from almost a decade ago when he was a private citizen, is also expected – likely in the near future.

The case in the May 20 ruling is Trump v. Committee on Oversight and Reform of the U.S. House, No. 19-cv-1136 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The case in the May 22 ruling is Trump v. Deutsche Bank, No. 19-cv-3826 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Ken Klukowski is senior legal analyst for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.


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