Federal Judge Slams Trump's Attempt to Block Congressional Subpoena

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

A Washington, D.C. judge ruled against Trump’s lawyers’ attempt to block a subpoena by the House of Representatives of the president’s accounting firm, according to BuzzFeed.

In a 41-page opinion, US District Judge Amit Mehta wrote that the House Oversight Committee had “facially valid legislative purposes” for subpoenaing the firm, Mazars LLP, for records related to Donald Trump and his businesses.

“It is not for the court to question whether the Committee’s actions are truly motivated by political considerations,” Mehta wrote.

The subpoena was the result of testimony given to Congress by former Trump lawyer and current prison inmate Michael Cohen, who told Congress in February that Trump would often inflate or deflate his net worth in order to benefit himself financially.

At the Mazars case hearing, Trump’s lawyer William Consovoy asked the judge to delay the ruling if they were to appeal. Mehta denied the request, saying the public interest in the records outweighed the potential harm to Trump.

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“The court is well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the President of the United States. But on the question of whether to grant a stay pending appeal, the President is subject to the same legal standard as any other litigant that does not prevail,” Mehta wrote.

This is one of two subpoenas that Trump is currently litigating. The other is in Manhattan, where he is fighting to block subpoenas of his records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One.

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In his case, Consovoy argued that the Oversight Committee was overstepping their constitutional powers by attempting to investigate the president. The lawyer for the House of Representatives, Douglas Letter, said that Congress had the right to investigate any matter that might lead to legislation.

Mehta agreed with Letter, writing that it is constitutional for Congress to investigate any subject on which “legislation could be had.”

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The House committee says that if they find Trump misstated his earnings or liabilities, it could lead to new ethics and financial disclosure laws.

The judge referenced the investigations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton as precedent for his decision.

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“The former investigation included within its scope potential corruption by President Nixon while in office, while the latter concerned alleged illegal misconduct by President Clinton before his time in office. Congress plainly views itself as having sweeping authority to investigate illegal conduct of a President, before and after taking office,” Mehta wrote. “This court is not prepared to roll back the tide of history.”

“It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct—past or present—even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry,” he added.

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He also noted that the Watergate scandal did end up leading to new legislation, including laws on transparency and oversight. Trump’s argument, he wrote, “flies in the face of decades of legislation covering the President.”

The president, of course, was less than pleased.

“We disagree with that ruling, it’s crazy,” Trump told reporters, according to CNN.

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“This never happened to any other president,” he said, directly contradicting the judge, and history.

Mazars will now have seven days to turn over the requested documents. Trump’s team is expected to appeal.

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Rep. Elijah Cummings, who heads the Oversight Committee, called the ruling a “resounding victory for the rule of law and our Constitutional system of checks and balances.”

“The court recognized the basic, but crucial fact that Congress has authority to conduct investigations as part of our core function under the Constitution,” he said in a statement.

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