President Donald Trump‘s attorneys had some thoughts for the Barack Obama-appointed federal judge who decided to quicken the pace of certain proceedings in the ongoing struggle between Team Trump and House Democrats.
If you were paying attention last Thursday afternoon, May 9, Judge Amit Mehta entered an order revealing that it was his plan to fast-track Trump’s attempt to stop finance firm Mazars USA from complying with a congressional subpoena from the House Oversight Committee. Mehta said he was “notifying the parties that the court intends to advance Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction to trial on the merits” and consolidate issues into a hearing because the court “can discern no benefit from an additional round of legal arguments.”
Trump lawyers want no part of this streamlining and said so just before Tuesday, May 14. That’s the date the judge set for the hearing.
“Last Thursday at 4:00 P.M., the Court notified the parties that the hearing on Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction would also be the final trial on the merits. Because the hearing is tomorrow, the Court’s consolidation will force Plaintiffs to try their case on only four days’ notice, with no discovery, with little opportunity to assemble evidence, before Defendants have filed a single pleading, with no idea which facts are actually in dispute, and without a round of briefing focused on the merits,” they began. “While Plaintiffs understand the Court’s desire to decide this case efficiently, resolving it in this way—and on this schedule—will severely prejudice Plaintiffs. Put simply, proceeding in this fashion will deny Plaintiffs a full and fair opportunity to assemble a record and brief the merits of their constitutional claim.”
Trump lawyers added that they “respectfully oppose consolidation” because consolidation “on such short notice […] would undermine Plaintiffs’ constitutional due-process rights.”
“[T]he President of the United States, and the other Plaintiffs, respectfully ask this Court to limit tomorrow’s hearing to the motion for a preliminary injunction or, in the alternative, cancel tomorrow’s hearing and set a schedule for trial on the merits that would allow the record to be fully developed and the legal issues to be adequately briefed and argued,” they continued. “Only by proceeding in one of these ways will the Court be able ‘fully to consider and to act on this matter’ from the ‘best available perspective, both as to underlying evidence and [its] appraisal thereof.'”
The House Oversight Committee 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.
Trump has alleged that the subpoena was issued “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.” Trump lawyers called the subpoena a “weapon of choice” for House Democrats in their “all-out political war against President Donald J. Trump.”
Update, 7:58 p.m.: Judge Mehta has ordered that the hearing proceed on Tuesday “as scheduled.”
“During the hearing, the court will take up the objections to its Consolidation Order made in Plaintiffs’ Response to Order of the Court,” Mehta said in a minute order Monday evening, the court docket in the case shows.
[Images via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]