President Donald Trump has initiated legal action to prevent his accounting firm from turning over his personal financial documents to House Democrats who are investigating him. A lawsuit filed Monday against Mazars USA, as well as House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) and the committee’s Chief Investigative Counsel Peter Kenny claims that there is no legal basis for seeking the financial records.
The Committee has subpoenaed Mazars USA for Trump’s financial documents, including “Statements of Financial Condition.” During a recent congressional hearing, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen stated that Trump would use these statements to exaggerate the value of his assets. He would allegedly due so by inflating the number of residential units in properties and the number of floors in towers he owned. Democrats are looking into this to see if any of these alleged misrepresentations were criminal in nature. Trump had previously put Mazars USA “on notice,” saying that legal action could come if they complied with a subpoena. Now it appears that Trump does not wish to wait for that to happen.
The complaint notes that Cohen is “a felon who has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress,” and claims that the subpoena goes beyond the Oversight Committee’s authority.
“Chairman Cummings has ignored the constitutional limits on Congress’ power to investigate,” it says, pointing out that the Constitution “gives Congress the power to enact certain legislation,” (emphasis in original), not to investigate. “Accordingly, investigations are legitimate only insofar as they further some legitimate legislative purpose.”
Trump alleges that Cummings’ subpoena doesn’t have any legislative goals, and is only meant to look into alleged criminal activity, with the goal of exposing the president’s personal information “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 complaint states that the subpoena is merely the “weapon of choice” for House Democrats in their “all-out political war against President Donald J. Trump.”
Cummings said in a statement to Law&Crime:
The President has a long history of trying to use baseless lawsuits to attack his adversaries, but there is simply no valid legal basis to interfere with this duly authorized subpoena from Congress. This complaint reads more like political talking points than a reasoned legal brief, and it contains a litany of inaccurate information. The White House is engaged in unprecedented stonewalling on all fronts, and they have refused to produce a single document or witness to the Oversight Committee during this entire year.
Law&Crime also reached out to Kenny and Mazars USA, but they have not responded.
Trump’s lawsuit aims to block the subpoena via a permanent injunction and a court order saying that such a measure is “invalid and unenforceable.” It also seeks an order prohibiting Mazars USA from turning over the documents.
Note: This article has been updated with a statement from Rep. Cummings.
[Image via Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images]
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