The Trump team is continuing to try and keep concerned members of Congress from accessing the president’s financial information, even as that information falls within established parameters of duly proceeding investigation. This week, the Department of Justice itself filed an assertion with a D.C. area federal court of appeals that a particular subpoena targeting Trump’s longtime personal accounting firm Mazars USA is supposedly invalid because the House Oversight Committee has not identified a “legitimate legislative purpose” to be served by the material. Apparently, the Justice Department lawyers behind this new brief haven’t paid any attention to what House Democrats have been saying or something.
‘The separation-of-powers concerns arising from the President’s unique status likewise demand that the House (or at least the Committee) clearly identify a legitimate legislative purpose for seeking the President’s official or private records, including identifying with sufficient particularity the subject matter of potential legislation to which the information sought pertains.’
To be clear, as others like House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) have pointed out, there is no legal mandate for Congress to carry out oversight only if purposes have been publicly delineated in enough “sufficient particularity” to satisfy the lawyers working for a person like Donald Trump. Still, the Trump team in the government and outside of it continue to work against a wide array of House Democratic pushes at oversight — in this case, they want the subpoena against Mazars to be declared invalid following a lower level federal judge allowing it to proceed earlier this year.
The documents could be helpful in answering the question of whether the president is guilty of the kind of fraud laid out by sources like his longtime and now jailed “fixer” Michael Cohen. The former lawyer has explained how Trump regularly produced asset statements that misrepresented his actual financial standing to potential business partners, which could constitute fraud. These issues have also snowballed into questions about possible tax and insurance fraud, with reports of the president benefiting from schemes to avoid large amount of taxes and possibly getting better insurance rates based on false information.
Unsurprisingly considering precedent, the Justice Department lawyers on Trump’s side here don’t seem to have mentioned any of this in their arguments. Instead, they simply claim like subpoenas like the one against Mazars place a supposed undue “burden” on the president, even though to be clear, he isn’t even named in this one. If Trump can’t deal with a subpoena targeting one of his financial firms possibly implicated in bank fraud — maybe the issue here isn’t the subpoena. Just saying. The supposed fact that Congressional subpoenas supposedly may “harry the President and distract his attention” isn’t exactly a winning, reassuring argument here.
A decision in this case is only getting closer; oral arguments have already been heard. Besides the Mazars issue, the Trump administration is also fighting against Congressional efforts like their subpoena of Trump’s tax returns, which he has notoriously kept from public view. The documents could shine some light on those questions outlined above and other issues, like possible foreign financial entanglement on the president’s part.
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