Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order Donald Trump to comply with a subpoena for his personal financial information. They argue that now that Trump has left office, the former president can no longer rely on the same constitutional claims that allowed him to delay the case for more than two years.
In a motion for summary judgement filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, House General Counsel Douglas Letter said that because the committee’s investigation into conflicts of interest in the office of the presidency no longer impinges upon separation of power issues, Trump no longer has a viable claim to withhold the subpoenaed documents.
“While the Committee’s need for the subpoenaed information has not changed, one key fact has: Plaintiff Donald J. Trump is no longer the President,” the motion stated. “Because he is no longer the incumbent, the constitutional separation-of-powers principles that were the foundation of the Supreme Court’s recent decision are significantly diminished. Former President Trump no longer ‘alone composes a branch of government.’ He and Congress no longer have an ‘ongoing institutional relationship as the ‘opposite and rival’ political branches,’ and the Committee’s subpoena does not ‘unavoidably pit the political branches against one another.”
The high court last summer issued a 7-2 decision rejecting Trump’s claim that he is immune from criminal investigations. However, the justices vacated lower court judgements on the validity of the congressional subpoenas and remanded the issues back down the chain to be reconsidered in light of the “significant separation of powers concerns” at issue. The justices called for a “balanced approach” to evaluating the validity of a subpoena directed at the president, taking into account the “legislative interests of Congress and the unique position of the President.”
Trump’s legal team implored the court to utilize the balancing test laid out by the Supreme Court, but Letter contended that analysis “is no longer relevant.”
“Instead, under Supreme Court precedent addressing the separation of powers as applied to former Presidents, the Court should apply a balancing test that weighs the Committee’s need for the subpoenaed documents — which is significant — against the harm to the Presidency implicated by production of a former President’s personal information — which is limited,” Letter wrote. “The Committee’s need for the subpoenaed documents to address Presidential conflicts of interest far outweighs any harm to the Office of the President or the functioning of the Executive Branch.”
A hearing in the matter is currently scheduled for June 18.
Read the full motion below.
[image via NBC screengrab]
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