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Federal judge sides with House Democrats over subpoena for Trump’s financial records

FOX News logo FOX News 5/20/2019 Gregg Re

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A Washington, D.C.-based federal judge has sided with House Oversight Committee Democrats seeking to enforce their subpoena of Trump accounting firm Mazars USA, in a major ruling that breathes new life into Democrats' ongoing efforts to probe the president's financial dealings.

The subpoena seeks access to a slew of Trump financial documents dating back to 2011. Democrats pursued the subpoena after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress that the president routinely and improperly altered financial statements.

Barack Obama-appointed judge Amit P. Mehta's 41-page opinion began by comparing President Trump's concerns over congressional overreach to those of President James Buchanan, asserting that Trump "has taken up the fight of his predecessor."

And Mehta acknowledged that he was "well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the President of the United States."

But, Mehta said, Democrats' subpoena fell within well-established congressional investigative powers. He said he would not stay his ruling pending appeal.

“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," Mehta wrote.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Pundits rip language over FBI probe. © Pundits rip language over FBI probe. The president’s legal team, in a filing earlier this month, had asked the judge to prohibit Mazars from “enforcing or complying” with the subpoena, issued April 15.

Trump's lawyers had argued the subpoena to Mazars “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose,” and is an “unconstitutional attempt to exercise ‘the powers of law enforcement.’”

Trump’s lawyers also noted that the House Oversight Committee, led by Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., is leading several Trump-focused investigations.

“Chairman Cummings flat-out admitted that he wanted to ‘investigate whether the President may have engaged in illegal conduct before and during his tenure in office’ and ‘review whether he has accurately reported his finances to the Office of Government Ethics and other federal entities,’” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the filing.

The Trump team filing came after Cummings’ committee issued several subpoenas for Mazars Accounting in an effort to obtain financial documents and audits prepared for Trump and his businesses over the last decade. Cummings also sought independent auditor’s reports, annual statements and other documents related to Trump’s finances spanning from 2011 to 2018.

At the time, Mazars said it “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”

Fox News' Bill Mears, Edward Lawrence, Brooke Singman, and Kristin Brown contributed to this report


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