President Trump Sues to Block Democrats’ Subpoena for Financial Records

By Zachary Stieber

President Donald Trump’s lawyers filed a lawsuit on April 22, seeking to block a subpoena issued by members of Congress that sought Trump’s financial information.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Peter Kenny, chief investigative counsel of the committee, were named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was obtained and published online (pdf).

“We will not allow Congressional Presidential harassment to go unanswered,” Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president, said in a statement sent to news outlets.

Cummings said earlier this month that his committee was going to subpoena Mazars USA, an accounting firm, to obtain some of Trump’s financial information and issued a subpoena soon after, seeking financial statements from 2011 through 2018 related to Trump, his real estate company, and his foundation.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) during a hearing in Washington on March 14, 2019. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Cummings cited testimony by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who was convicted of lying to federal authorities. Cohen claimed in February that Trump inflated or deflated the value of his assets, depending on what would benefit him at the time.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Cummings and his committee sought documents from Mazars on a voluntary basis, but was told by an attorney for the company in March that it couldn’t turn over any documents without a subpoena.

In the suit, Trump’s attorneys wrote: “The Democrat Party, with its newfound control of the U.S. House of Representatives, has declared all-out political war against President Donald J. Trump. Subpoenas are their weapon of choice.”

“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 suit added.

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump
Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, returns to the room after a break during a hearing before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 27, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Citing Cummings saying he could investigative “any matter at any time,” Trump’s representatives said that the chairman is overstepping the constitutional limits on Congress’s power to investigative and says the subpoena of Mazars “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose” and would expose confidential information.

“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 lawyers wrote in the suit.

“The committee’s attempt to obtain years’ worth of confidential information from their accountants lacks any legitimate legislative purpose, is an abuse of power, and is just another example of overreach by the president’s political opponents. We look forward to vindicating our clients’ rights in this matter,” William Consovoy and Stefan Passantino, who are representing Trump in the suit, added in a statement.

Cummings has not reacted to the suit.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller drives away from his Washington home on April 17, 2019. (Kevin Wolf/AP Photo)

Democrats have struggled to recover in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Mueller wrote that his team couldn’t establish cooperation or conspiracy between any member of Trump’s campaign and Russians, contrary to what Democrats and a number of media outlets alleged for years. Mueller attempted to build a case of obstruction against the president but ultimately concluded there wasn’t enough evidence for that, either.

Refusing to back down from incendiary claims, Cummings and other leading Democrats haven’t taken trying to impeach Trump off the table.

Cummings said during an appearance on CNN on April 19 that Mueller’s yearslong investigation wasn’t thorough enough and that Congress would need to probe Trump’s alleged obstruction efforts further.

“We’ve got to continue our investigations,” Cummings said.