President Donald Trump filed an appeal on May 24 seeking to overturn a federal judge’s ruling which upheld two Democrat-issued subpoenas seeking the president’s financial records from two banks.
The president’s attorneys filed the appeal (pdf) with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf Trump, his children—Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump—and several of their companies.
On May 22, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, said that Trump and his company’s argument that the subpoenas were unconstitutional would unlikely succeed and that the subpoenas have “a legitimate legislative purpose.”
The appeal is the second test of congressional subpoena power sent to the circuit courts this week. On May 20, Trump appealed a federal judge’s ruling which upheld a subpoena seeking the president’s financial records from account firm Mazars LLC. The decision to uphold the subpoena was also issued by an Obama appointee, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta.
“It’s totally the wrong decision by obviously an Obama-appointed judge,” Trump said after Mehta upheld the Mazars subpoena.
The Democrats on the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees say they need the president’s financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One Bank in order to investigate possible “foreign influence in the U.S. political process,” among other matters.
Trump argues that the Democrats are insisting on a “do-over” of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who concluded that there is not enough evidence to establish that Trump or anyone on his campaign colluded with Russia. In addition to Mueller, three separate investigations in the House and Senate concluded there is no evidence of collusion.
The House lawyers argued in a written submission prior to the hearing on May 22 that the president’s effort to block the subpoenas was “flatly inconsistent with nearly a century of Supreme Court precedent.”
Trump’s attorneys responded that accepting the House committee’s arguments would mean “Congress can issue a subpoena on any matter, at any time, for any reason, to any person, and there is basically nothing a federal court can do about it.”
Late last month, the president pledged to fight all subpoenas from the Democrats. In the month that followed his comments, Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin defied a subpoena for the president’s tax returns and Attorney General William Barr defied a subpoena seeking a fully unredacted version of the Mueller report.
When the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee moved to start the procedure to hold Barr in contempt for defying the subpoena, the White House, at Barr’s request, asserted executive privilege over the entire Mueller report. The White House also instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn to not testify before the committee.
The Democrats are also attempting to negotiate testimony by Mueller, but talks have stalled because Mueller has demanded to testify only in private.
“I don’t know why the Radical Left Democrats want Bob Mueller to testify when he just issued a 40 Million Dollar Report that states, loud & clear & for all to hear, No Collusion and No Obstruction (how do you Obstruct a NO crime?) Dems are just looking for trouble and a Do-Over!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Janita Khan contributed to this report.