2019-05-20 19:24:421 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Amit Mehta (Image source: Public domain)
Donald Trump's legal team lost out in its attempt to block a subpoena and prevent an accounting firm from handing over his financial records to the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The judge believes the panel is within its right to investigate Trump.
The Democrat-controlled House committee subpoenaed accounting firm Mazars USA for financial statements, communications, and other documents pertaining to Trump, as well as those that relate to his businesses and charity from 2011 through 2018.
The president's attorneys have been fighting back against this demand for documents. They sued Mazars to stop the subpoena, forcing the House to bring the case into court last week.
"Congress is not trying to send President Trump to jail," argued Doug Letter, House general counsel. "But we can still look into ... whether someone is violating the law."
Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia explained last week that federal courts rarely take the side of requests to limit congressional subpoenas and noted the historically important work of congressional investigations.
On Monday Mehta issued a 41-page opinion, rejecting Trump's and his attorneys' efforts to block the House Oversight subpoena. This is very important because of the numerous other cases Trump has against him in the House and New York.
Mehta ultimately decided that Congress can specifically investigate the president over conflicts of interest and ethical questions.
"History has shown that congressionally-exposed criminal conduct by the president or a high-ranking Executive Branch official can lead to investigation," he wrote, using the Senate's investigation of Watergate as an example.
"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," added the judge.
Mehta gave Mazars seven data to complete with the House Oversight's request for Trump's financial documents. He will not halt the subpoena after that, leaving that to another court to deal with.
"The court is well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the President of the United States," he noted.
"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."
At the time of publication, Trump has not commented on today's ruling.
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