President Donald Trump is upping the ante of his harsh antagonism towards investigative efforts. This week, his business filed a lawsuit seeking a court order to block House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) from accessing the president’s financial records. In light of growing, substantive allegations and even revelations of fraud, Cummings had just recently subpoenaed longtime Trump accounting firm Mazars USA for ten years of financial statements that they signed off on even when they contained misrepresentations.
The president’s team essentially asserts now that Democrats have no right to examine that possible wrongdoing, complaining:
‘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.’
Trump’s attempts to intervene in the judicial process with harshly political arguments have gotten him essentially nowhere but deeper in his hole via still-standing obstruction of justice allegations in the past — so of course he’s keeping up with them.
The president’s team’s allegation that the Oversight Committee’s inquiry is invalid because it “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose” has already been proven itself invalid via another venue — their tussle with the House Financial Services Committee over the president’s tax returns. In response to the Trump team alleging improper motivations for that committee’s Democratic chairperson Rep. Richard Neal (Mass.) seeking the documents, he explained:
‘The Supreme Court has instructed that Congress’s power to investigate is “broad” and “encompasses inquiries concerning the administration of existing laws as well as proposed or possibly needed statutes.”.. the Supreme Court has consistently noted that the motivations underlying Congressional action are not to be second-guessed, even by the courts.’
In other words, according to existing legal standards, Trump doesn’t get to shut down Congressional Democratic inquiries just because they constitute challenges to his political aims. Twitter-style jabs at credibility don’t generally hold up in courts of law.
That certainly is unlikely to stop the president anytime soon, though. His team explicitly ties their lawsuit to his re-election effort, turning the courts into a venue for campaigning and asserting of the Oversight Committee’s subpoena of Mazars USA:
‘Its goal is to expose the Plantiffs’ 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 now and in the 2020 election.’
Besides this issue, the Trump team has been stonewalling the Oversight Committee on plenty of others, refusing for months to hand over a single document or produce a single witness for testimony that they’d requested covering issues like the security clearance issuance process.
There are also broader issues at play — following the release of the final report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, talk of impeaching the president has grown among Democrats. Some — including Cummings himself — have explicitly suggested the effort would be worthwhile even if it got nowhere in the Republican-majority Senate. On CBS’s Face the Nation, he said:
‘I think even if we did not win possibly… I think history would smile upon us for standing up for the Constitution.’
Featured Image via screenshot