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Trump sues to protect personal financial records from Democrat House subpoenas

Trump sues to protect personal financial records from Democrat House subpoenas

Lawsuit: “Chairman Cummings’ subpoena of [Trump’s personal accountants] lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives, are using their committee powers to wage an all out war on Donald Trump regarding his personal finances, including businesses.

This use of government power to go after all things Trump is not new. Various state Attorney Generals, particularly Tish James in New York, have signaled a desire and intent to subject Trump’s personal and business finances to extreme scrutiny looking for a crime.

The weaponization of the House subpoena power to wage a personal war on a president may not be completely unprecedented, but it does raise important legal issues. To the extent a particular House committee is seeking information, documents and testimony regarding conduct a president engaged in as president or some other political office, that could be considered fair oversight. To the extent a House committee is waging political war on a president’s non-political personal and business finances, particularly for events prior to taking office, that raises substantial privacy concerns.

Trump and various Trump entities have just filed suit in federal court in D.C. seeking to prevent prying into his personal finances. The Complaint (pdf.) is embedded in full at the bottom of this post.

Here is the Introduction to the Complaint:

1. The Democrat Party, with its newfound control of the U.S. House of Representatives, has declared all-out political war against President Donald J. Trump. Subpoenas are their weapon of choice.

2. Democrats are using their new control of congressional committees to investigate every aspect of President Trump’s personal finances, businesses, and even his family. Instead of working with the President to pass bipartisan legislation that would actually benefit Americans, House Democrats are singularly obsessed with finding something they can use to damage the President politically. They have issued more than 100 subpoenas and requests to anyone with even the most tangential connection to the President.

3. This case involves one of those subpoenas. Last week, Defendant Elijah E. Cummings invoked his authority as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee to subpoena Mazars USA LLP—the longtime accountant for President Trump and several Trump entities (all Plaintiffs here). Chairman Cummings asked Mazars for financial statements, supporting documents, and communications about Plaintiffs over an eight-year period—mostly predating the President’s time in office.

4. Chairman Cummings requested this information because Michael Cohen—a felon who has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress— told the House Oversight Committee that the President had misrepresented his net worth while he was a private citizen. The Committee, according to Chairman Cummings, now needs to “investigate whether the President may have engaged in illegal conduct.” The Chairman claims he can do so because the Oversight Committee can supposedly investigate “any matter at any time.”

5. Chairman Cummings has ignored the constitutional limits on Congress’ power to investigate. Article I of the Constitution does not contain an “Investigations Clause” or an “Oversight Case Clause.” It gives Congress the power to enact certain legislation. Accordingly, investigations are legitimate only insofar as they further some legitimate legislative purpose. No investigation can be an end in itself. And Congress cannot use investigations to exercise powers that the Constitution assigns to the executive or judicial branch.

6. Chairman Cummings’ subpoena of Mazars lacks a legitimate legislative purpose. There is no possible legislation at the end of this tunnel; indeed, the Chairman does not claim otherwise. With this subpoena, the Oversight Committee is instead assuming the powers of the Department of Justice, investigating (dubious and partisan) allegations of illegal conduct by private individuals outside of government. Its goal is to expose Plaintiffs’ private financial information for the sake of exposure, 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.

7. Because Chairman Cummings’ subpoena to Mazars threatens to expose Plaintiffs’ confidential information and lacks “a legitimate legislative purpose,” this Court has the power to declare it invalid and to enjoin its enforcement. Eastland v. U.S. Servicemen’s Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 501 n.14 (1975) (endorsing U.S. Servicemen’s Fund v. Eastland, 488 F.2d 1252, 1259-60 (D.C. Cir. 1973)). Plaintiffs are entitled to that relief.

The Complaint seeks injunctive relief, but as of this writing there is no request for a temporary or preliminary injunction on the PACER electronic docket. Instead, the Complaint briefs the law, which is somewhat unusual for a Complaint.

Here is the relief sought:

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs ask this Court to enter judgment in their favor and to provide the following relief:
a. A declaratory judgment that Chairman Cummings’ subpoena is invalid and unenforceable;
b. A permanent injunction quashing Chairman Cummings’ subpoena;
c. A permanent injunction prohibiting Chairman Cummings and Mr. Kenny from taking any actions to enforce the subpoena, from imposing sanctions for noncompliance with the subpoena, and from inspecting, using, maintaining, or disclosing any information obtained as a result of the subpoena;
d. A temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting Mazars from producing the requested information, and prohibiting Chairman Cummings and Mr. Kenny from taking any actions to enforce the subpoena, until the subpoena’s validity has been finally adjudicated on the merits;
e. Plaintiffs’ reasonable costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees; and
f. All other preliminary and permanent relief to which Plaintiffs are entitled

This will present some interesting legal issues as to the ability of a House committee to seek records that are not directly related to a president’s actions as president. If a House committee can go after personal and business records, what is the limit?

Most presidents would not have the personal financial ability to fight to protect their personal privacy. Trump does, so this case may end up with an unintended consequence of the desire to get Trump — some judicial limitation placed on House committee subpoenas of future presidents.


Trump v. Elijah Cummings Et Al. – Complaint Re Subpoena of Financial Records by Legal Insurrection on Scribd


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JusticeDelivered | April 22, 2019 at 11:15 am

What sort of punitive action can be taken against those bringing meritless actions?

    4th armored div in reply to JusticeDelivered. | April 22, 2019 at 11:42 am

    let senate committees go after Clinton foundation, pelosi millionaire finances, sanders wife driving college into bankruptcy ….

    good for the goose, good for the gander.

      4th armored div in reply to 4th armored div. | April 22, 2019 at 11:44 am

      Clinton sale of 20% of uranium to RUSSIA – that was collusion and corruption!

        At the time Mueller certified that there was no bribery associated with the deal. Maybe Mueller should tell us if he has any off shore bank accounts

          Mac45 in reply to MarkS. | April 22, 2019 at 3:19 pm

          “At the time Mueller certified that there was no bribery associated with the deal.”

          At the exact time that McCabe was investigation TENEX, a subsidiary of Rosatom, for fraud and kick-backs and Rosenstein and Weissman were preparing to prosecute officers of that company.

      RITaxpayer in reply to 4th armored div. | April 22, 2019 at 11:51 am

      Mr Cummings should be careful what he hopes for. He might just get it and I’m sure the flood gates would be opened.

      Clinton Foundation anyone??

    No doubt this will be used for dem fundraising activities. Send as much as you can so that we can get to the truth of Trump finances!!!

Democrats in Congress are among the least honest, most corrupt people in the world. Their sole involvement with the law is to misuse it to intimidate opponents. Cummings in the minority was a clueless laughingstock. In the majority, he’s also a threat to the separation of powers.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to RAM500. | April 22, 2019 at 11:23 am

    Cummings needs to be subjected to intense scrutiny, surely he has skeletons.

      He does have skeletons in his closet. He is an unindicted memeber of the Black Patchers, Students for a Democratic Society, the Weather Underground, and the Symbonese Liberation Army. In other words, a partner in crime with Bill Ayers and Anglea Davis.

One could suspect Representative Cummings to be jealous of the President’s net worth prior to his election as POTUS. There is absolutely zero mention regarding net worth of any individual running for the most powerful political office in the world. There are, as alluded in the attached lawsuit, wording which restricts Congress to 13 Enumerated Powers, none of which include ‘investigating’ past or previous financial activity of any person elected to political office. Representative Cummings walks a very thin line as the scent of corrupt practices emanates from the Democrat Party going back to Tammany Hall.

legacyrepublican | April 22, 2019 at 11:57 am

I am wondering if the House Minority Whip, Rep. Scalisse, might not file an amicus brief indicating that if the court finds for the house majority, when the minority next assumes power that it too will have the ability to use the power of the subpoena to politically harass a president and his cabinet if they are not of the same party.

As far as I can see, the president’s arguments are sound.

    Better would be for republicans in the House to file an Amicus brief supporting DJT and the establishment of constitution based limits on Congressional Fishing Expeditions as a matter of principle. President Trump if you are listening offer to pay for lawyers for the House Republicans to file such an amicus brief !!! Considering hiring Alan Dershowitz for the job of writing the amicus brief.

Life in the Soviet Union was like this.

Let me dust off my usual cynicism and say that a Democrat or GOPe Federal judge will go along with Cumming’s fishing expedition. What the laws says, or implies, will have exactly zero to do with it.

Too cynical? We just had a slew of Federal court decisions where judges ruled that the temporary restrictions on travel from some Muslim countries was unconstitutional because OrangeManBad. Same for trying to end Obama’s DACA executive order.

    You are correct. There is a federal judge, somewhere, that will rule against Trump no matter what

      fishstick in reply to MarkS. | April 22, 2019 at 4:59 pm

      then there should be a federal judge in a red state at the ready to issue a counter-injunction

      the Republicans should be fighting fire with fire with these federal courts and have every one of these attempts by the Democrats go to the Supremes, if need be

    It doesn’t matter. As long as Trump continues to litigate then the accounting frim can not, by law, turn over the information. And Congress, by law, can not retaliate against the accounting firm nor attempt to gain control over the information.

    At first I thought separation of powers issues would be involved. Congress has oversight authority over executive branch departments because they were created by legislation. But Congress doesn’t have oversight authority over the President himself because that office is created by the Constitution, and the chief executive is the head of a separate and coequal branch of government.

    And that separate and coequal branch of government also has subpoena powers plus law enforcement powers. Perhaps the Dems in Congress should have thought of that. I hear, for instance, that Maxine Waters and her husband have a history of shady and possibly illegal self-dealing financial transactions.

      Arminius in reply to Arminius. | April 23, 2019 at 4:41 am

      I should have mentioned that I don’t believe separation of powers questions are in play as Cummings is demanding information on Trump’s personal finances almost entirely before he became President, and Trump is engaging in this litigation entirely in his capacity as a private citizen.

“…this case may end up with an unintended consequence of the desire to get Trump — some judicial limitation placed on House committee subpoenas of future presidents.”

Since Republicans have never demonstrated any interest in exercising their oversight and investigatory powers to probe Democrat executive malfeasance, I fail to see how this could be a problem.

Democrats, in general, and liberal Democrats, in particular, have a serious problem with accepting Constitutional limitations. And, that is what should worry the rest of us a very great deal.

The Obama administration used the Executive Branch to illegally spy on Americans and took unlawful action against those with whom they disagreed. Why would a Democrat dominated Legislative body be any different.

Let’s fund Judicial Watch to look into the finances of Cummings, Pelosi, Feinstein, waters and the rest of them.

PDJT should get busy with releasing the FISA docs, Fast and Furious docs, IRS docs and a whole raft of other documents.

He should also pardon Gen Flynn and bring him back. The swamp is afraid of Flynn, let them know the rats are being brought into the light.

So what happens when the Left/Democrats finally get the Trump tax returns only to discover that Trump has been audited to death and that no illegal activities are there. Sure, they will try and spin it by identifying some legal loophole as a crime when it is not or some moral argument about using some method to legally reduce one’s taxes, but ultimately it would all fail.
Now imagine this all coming out during the campaign season. This appears to be a case of the Democrats being on the ropes after the disastrous Mueller report along with more than two years of hysteria, the Left’s/MSM’s constant lying, and now they are going double or nothing. A nothing result in this tax fraud witch hunt would ensure Republican victory and rule for the foreseeable future. Given Trump’s penchant for laying traps for the Left/Democrats to fall into, doesn’t this seem particularly foolish for them to try to find fault with Trump’s tax returns? But, then again, it seems the entire Democratic Party seems overtaken by bad choices and foolishness lately.

Catfish Cummings. Another bottom feeder.