House Calls on Supreme Court to Allow Them to Enforce Subpoenas for Trump’s Financial Records

December 11, 2019 Updated: December 11, 2019
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House Democrats urged the Supreme Court to allow them to enforce congressional subpoenas for President Donald Trump’s financial records, saying that the information was needed to protect the 2020 election from foreign interference.

In a filing on Wednesday (pdf), the House attorneys argue that any harm suffered by Trump and his businesses from complying with the subpoena would be less severe than the harm the House and the public would suffer without having access to the financial records so that it could “exercise its constitutional functions.”

The attorneys said the information was needed to determine if legislation is warranted to protect against threats of foreign interference.

“Legislative efforts to secure the financial system from abuse have obvious importance. And nothing is more urgent than efforts to guard against foreign influence in our systems for electing officials, particularly given the upcoming 2020 elections,” the attorneys wrote in the filing.

The filing was made in response to a temporary hold, issued by the top court on Dec. 6, on a Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that ordered two banks that have done business with President Donald Trump—Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp—to release Trump’s financial documents to two House Committees. Trump’s legal team filed the emergency application for a stay on the lower court’s ruling earlier on the same day in order to enable them time to file a petition to the Supreme Court to review the case.

The case stems from subpoenas issued by the House Financial Services and House Intelligence committees in April to the two banks asking them to turn over documents related to Trump’s financial records concerning him, his children, and his company.

Trump then sued the two banks in April in an effort to stop them from complying with the subpoenas, arguing that the House subpoenas were unlawful and unconstitutional. But in May, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that subpoenas have “a legitimate legislative purpose” and could be enforced.

Ramos’s ruling prompted Trump to file an appeal in August to the Second Circuit Court. But the court ruled on Dec. 3 that the banks must comply with the subpoenas.

The House attorneys in Wednesday’s filing also asked the court to treat the stay as a certiorari petition, or condition the stay on the filing of the appeal if the justices decide to grant Trump the stay.

This is the third case relating to Trump’s financial records that have reached the top court in recent weeks.

The Justices are deciding on whether to take up a similar but separate case involving a House Oversight Committee subpoena for Trump’s financial records from Mazar USA, Trump’s accountants. Trump’s legal team filed their petition on Dec. 4 (pdf). House attorneys are expected to file an opposition to the petition in the Mazar case on Wednesday, according to the attorneys.

In another separate lawsuit—where Trump’s financial records were subpoenaed by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. for a grand jury probe—the Supreme Court has scheduled the case for a conference on Friday.

Mimi Nguyen-Ly contributed to this report.

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