Appeals Court Upholds House Subpoena Of Trump Financial Records

President Donald Trump answers questions before boarding Marine One while departing the White House on October 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Trump is scheduled to address a rally in Minnesota later in the day. (Photo b... President Donald Trump answers questions before boarding Marine One while departing the White House on October 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Trump is scheduled to address a rally in Minnesota later in the day. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) MORE LESS
|
October 11, 2019 10:34 a.m.
JOIN TPM FOR JUST $1

President Donald Trump has lost his bid in the Washington, D.C. federal appeals court to shield his financial records from Congress.

The ruling comes just a few days after the President lost his bid in a New York federal district court to block the release of his tax returns.

The three-judge appeals panel split 2-1. D.C. Circuit Court Judge David S. Tatel wrote the opinion for the court and Judge Neomi Rao dissented.

Asked Friday whether the President would appeal, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow told TPM, “We are reviewing the opinion and evaluating all appellate options.”

The D.C. case dates back to April, when the House Oversight Committee subpoenaed Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm, for Trump’s records.

Trump took the unusual step of hiring outside attorneys in the case, who argued against the release of Trump’s financial records. District Judge Amit Mehta upheld the subpoena in May, and Trump appealed.

Trump’s lawyers argued that Congress’ subpoena was an improper attempt to seize law enforcement authority, rather than an exercise in congressional oversight as Democrats have asserted.

The appeals court found that, regardless of motive or potential criminal conduct that could be exposed in the documents, Congress had a valid legislative aim in seeking the records.

“[P]ublic record reveals legitimate legislative pursuits, not an impermissible law-enforcement purpose, behind the Committee’s subpoena,” Tatel wrote, pointing to relevant legislation pending in the House that would require presidents to disclose financial information.

“Simply put, an interest in past illegality can be wholly consistent with an intent to enact remedial legislation,” he said, adding later: “Whether current financial disclosure laws are successfully eliciting the right information from the sitting President, occupant of the highest elected office in the land, is undoubtedly ‘a matter of concern to the United States.'”

Tatel also pointed to the Emoluments Clause, the subject of other court battles involving Trump, as an example of why records of Trump’s finances could be of the legislature’s concern.

“If the President may accept no domestic emoluments and must seek Congress’s permission before accepting any foreign emoluments, then surely a statute facilitating the disclosure of such payments lies within constitutional limits,” the opinion read. 

And while it’s possible that a congressional request could be too onerous for a President to comply with it, Tatel granted, “Congress can require the President to make reasonable financial disclosures without upsetting this balance” between the branches.

Read Tatel and Rao’s opinions below:


Tierney Sneed contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.

Comments
Masthead Masthead
Editor & Publisher:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporter:
Senior Newswriters:
Newswriters:
Editor at Large:
General Manager & General Counsel:
Executive Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Publishing Associate:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: