Appeals Court Upholds House Subpoena Of Trump Financial Records

Donald Trump pauses while speaking in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington D.C

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Friday ordered Mazars USA, an accounting firm used by Trump and the Trump Organization, to hand over the eight-years' worth of tax returns pertaining to both parties.

The House oversight committee subpoenaed records from Mazars in April.

The White House, which has characterized congressional investigations into the president as "harassment", argued that Congress did not need the information to fulfill its role as legislator.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, affirmed a lower court decision that the House Oversight Committee subpoena for documents from Mazars LLP accountants was valid.

The judge disagreed, ruled in prosecutors' favor, and the case went to the 2nd Circuit on appeal. It's likely that the most recent ruling also will be appealed.

Trump appointee Neomi Rao dissented from the three-judge panel's ruling.

Judges David Tatel, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, wrote the majority opinion, joined by Judge Patricia Millett, an appointee of President Barack Obama.

Then, on September 19, Trump sued Vance, a Democrat, and the accounting firm, calling the subpoena "unconstitutional".

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The documents the House seeks are relevant to the investigation, the majority said. Investigations of impeachable offenses simply are not, and never have been, within Congress's legislative power.

The Mazars case is one of several testing Congress's power to obtain a sitting president's financial records in the name of oversight, with significant implications for the relationship between the executive and legislative branches.

'Upholding the subpoenas 'would turn Congress into a roving inquisition over a co-equal branch of government, ' she added.

"We detect no inherent constitutional flaw in laws requiring presidents to publicly disclose certain financial information", the opinion states. And that is enough. "Without treading onto any other potentially fertile grounds from which constitutional legislation could flower, we conclude that given the constitutionally permissible options open to Congress in the field of financial disclosure, the challenged subpoena seeks 'information about a subject on which legislation may be had'".

To the dissent, however, this makes no difference. That probe was triggered by a whistle-blower's claim that Trump asked Ukraine's president to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and held back military aid Congress had appropriated to resist Russian influence in the region.

The goal behind the demand, however, isn't to craft legislation; as Rao points out, it's to pursue impeachment, which is not a legislative function.

The president is also embroiled in lawsuits with the House Ways and Means Committee, which is trying to get six years of Trump tax records from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and has the standing right to request similar information from the state of NY. That would seem to be more the case when demanding subpoenas for private tax records for years when a president wasn't in any elective office at all. He could appeal to the Supreme Court.

"We're one step closer to holding him accountable today", tweeted progressive advocacy group Tax March in response to the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

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