People want to see Donald Trump’s taxes and financial records. Yet, POTUS has held them closer than any other information related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. It appeared that Democrats had discovered a way to obtain them, but Trump may have figured out how to block them.
House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, requesting the records. The firm replied that it would willingly comply, but it needed a subpoena. Cummings agreed. Now though, the commander-in-chief has threatened the accounting firm with a lawsuit if it complied.
Attorneys for Trump, William Consovoy and Stefan Passantino, wrote to Mazars’ outside attorney, Jerry Bernstein. They do not want the accounting firm complying, saying that the subpoena was politically motivated by his Democratic enemies. According to POLITICO, the attorneys said the Democrats just want “to damage him:”
‘It is no secret that the Democrat Party has decided to use its new House majority to launch a flood of investigations into the president’s personal affairs in hopes of using anything they can find to damage him politically.’
The attorneys continued, outlining a series of legal precedents that they argued prevents Mazars from complying with Cummings’ subpoena:
‘The Democrats’ fervor has only intensified after the special counsel squelched their “Russia collusion” narrative.’
In his original letter to Mazars, Cummings asked for 10 years of the president’s financial records. There was no indication whether they would include copies of Trump’s personal and/or business tax returns. The committee also requested copies of Trump’s revocable trust’s and other related businesses’ financial records.
Cummings indicated to Mazars that the purpose of seeking the financial records was to corroborate Trump’s personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen’s, testimony. The attorney told the committee under oath that Trump inflated his financial value with one set of records when he wanted to borrow money. On the other hand, the president deflated his financial value with a different set of books when he wanted lower insurance premiums, for example.
Consovoy and Passantino wrote that they doubted the committee’s legal authority to conduct this investigation:
‘[T]he House Oversight Committee is not a miniature Department of Justice, charged with investigating and prosecuting potential federal crimes. It is a legislative body, not ‘a law enforcement or trial agency,’ and the chairman’s attempt to assume for Congress the role of police, prosecutor, and judge is unconstitutional.’
Ultra-conservative member of the Freedom Caucus Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) sits on the Oversight Committee, too. He prepared a memo calling the subpoena a “grave abuse” of the committee’s power. According to Jordan, Cummings had pledged to let all the committee members vote on whether they wanted to send the subpoena. Instead, the committee chair said that he would issue it unilaterally. Cummings’ reasoning was that Congress had recessed for two weeks.
‘I strongly object to Chairman Cummings’ unprecedented subpoena to Mazars and his irresponsible and gravely dangerous course of conduct in a singular obsession of attacking President Trump and his family for political gain.’
This was Cummings’ first subpoena in his role as chair of the committee. Although the House was in recess, the chair offered the other members of the committee the opportunity to send him feedback before he issued his subpoena.