President Trump personally sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One on Monday to stop the financial institutions from complying with congressional subpoenas issued by the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees.
The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court one week after Trump, through personal attorneys, sued his longtime accountant firm Mazars USA in a bid to stop it from complying with a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee.
The moves are of a piece with unprecedented stonewalling by the Trump White House on nearly every request made by congressional Democrats, with the executive branch refusing to make witnesses available or to produce documents.
But the strategy of hiring attorneys to sue private companies contacted by the House represents a new front in Trump’s war on oversight, as his personal lawyers advance new legal theories in a bid to restrict Congress’ power to investigate.
The lawsuit against Deutsche Bank and Capital One accuses House Democrats of trying “to rummage through every aspect of [Trump]’s personal finances, his businesses, and the private information of the President and his family, and to ferret about for any material that might be used to cause him political damage.”
The attorneys — veteran conservative movement lawyer William Consovoy and Marc Mukasey — repeat a legal theory that Trump has advanced elsewhere: “‘oversight’ and ‘transparency,’ in a vacuum, are not legitimate legislative purposes that can justify subpoenaing a private citizen.”
They go on to argue that Congress can only perform oversight on the executive branch if it is trying to gather information for the specific purpose of enacting a piece of legislation.
“No grounds exist to establish any purpose other than a political one,” they write of the subpoenas.
Deutsche and Capital One told Trump’s attorneys that they would start to give Congress the requested information by May 6, unless stopped by a court order.
House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Financial Services Committee chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) purportedly requested financial information for Trump and his family members in the subpoenas, as well as for businesses belonging to the president.
The lawsuit claims that the subpoenas also seek information regarding current and former employees of Trump’s firms, as well as any other representatives or partners that had done business with his companies.
“The House of Representatives is demanding, among other things, records of every single checking withdrawal, credit-card swipe, or debit-card purchase—no matter how trivial or small—made by each and every member of the Trump family,” the lawsuit reads.
Trump seeks an order halting the subpoena’s enforcement and declaring them invalid, as well as attorneys’ costs to be paid by Congress.
He accuses Schiff, Waters, and House Oversight Committee chair Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) of agreeing “to coordinate their subpoenas in order to inflict maximum political damage on President Trump by targeting his business and financial records.”
Consovoy is also representing Trump in a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general for Maryland and D.C. accusing him of violating the Constitution’s Emoluments clause. Acting as the President’s legal guard dog, he has sent threatening letters to the IRS on Trump’s behalf, beseeching and browbeating the agency’s commissioner to ignore a request from the House Ways and Means Committee for the president’s tax returns.
Read the lawsuit below: