APRIL 22, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Trump and his business sued House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) in a bid to block a congressional subpoena of his financial records on Monday.
The lawsuit seeks a court order to prevent Trump’s accounting firm from complying with what his lawyers say is an improper use of subpoena power by congressional Democrats.
“Democrats are using their new control of congressional committees to investigate every aspect of President Trump’s personal finances, businesses, and even his family,” the filing by Trump claims. “Instead of working with the President to pass bipartisan legislation that would actually benefit Americans, House Democrats are singularly obsessed with finding something they can use to damage the President politically.”
The filing, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, further escalates a clash between the White House and the Democratic-controlled House over congressional oversight.
Last week, Cummings subpoenaed Mazars USA, an accounting firm long used by Trump.
For more than a decade, Mazars and a predecessor firm signed off on financial statements for Trump that he used when seeking loans. Some of the statements include frequent exaggerations or inaccuracies and were accompanied by a note from the firm saying it was not responsible for the accuracy of the information.
The Oversight Committee on March 20 asked the company for copies of “statements of financial condition” and audits prepared for Trump and several of his companies, including the one that owns the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. The panel also requested supporting documents used to produce the reports and communications between the firm and Trump.
The company said last week that it “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”
Lawyers for the president and the Trump Organization previously wrote in a letter to Mazars’s counsel that an expected committee subpoena “would not be valid or enforceable.”
In the complaint filed Monday, Trump’s lawyers argue that the subpoena of Mazars “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose” and is seeking information about Trump as a private citizen, before he took office.
“With this subpoena, the Oversight Committee is instead assuming the powers of the Department of Justice, investigating (dubious and partisan) allegations of illegal conduct by private individuals outside of government,” it says. “Its goal is to expose Plaintiffs’ private financial information for the sake of exposure, with the hope that it will turn up something that Democrats can use as a political tool against the President now and in the 2020 election.”
The complaint seeks a permanent injunction to prevent Cummings from taking any actions to enforce the subpoena, and a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting Mazars from producing the requested information.
The Democrats’ requests for a decade of financial information followed accusations from Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen that Trump had inflated his worth to mislead his lenders and insurers.
During a late February hearing, Cohen provided copies of financial statements for 2011, 2012 and 2013, which he said Trump had sent to Deutsche Bank in pursuit of a loan to buy the NFL’s Buffalo Bills in 2014.
Cohen said the same sort of statement had been sent to Trump’s insurers in an attempt to lower Trump’s premiums by reassuring lenders about Trump’s ability to pay them.
Monday’s lawsuit comes amid a broader effort by Trump’s attorneys and the White House to resist congressional requests for information.
Earlier this month, the Treasury Department missed a deadline to hand over Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee.
White House officials have also been digging in their heels on other requests related to Trump’s actions as president.
The administration has signaled that it does not plan to turn over information being sought about how particular individuals received their security clearances, Trump’s meetings with foreign leaders, and other topics that they plan to argue are subject to executive privilege, according to several aides familiar with internal discussions.
Courtesy/Source: Washington Post