Trump Blindsided By Demand For Federal Subpoena Compliance


House Democrats have, through House General Counsel Douglas Letter, requested a court order compelling former President Donald Trump to comply with a subpoena that the House Oversight Committee issued for his financial records.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a similar subpoena from the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to remain in force, the court undid lower court conclusions in favor of the subpoena from Congress and referred the matter for further consideration by lower levels of the judiciary. Now, however, any concerns about protecting the separation of powers in the federal government and the independent operation of the executive branch are no longer so forceful as they may have been previously, because Trump is, of course, no longer in office as president.

As the new request for Trump’s compliance put it, referring to the House Oversight Committee: “While the Committee’s need for the subpoenaed information has not changed, one key fact has: Plaintiff Donald J. Trump is no longer the President.” The filing added as follows:

‘Because he is no longer the incumbent, the constitutional separation-of-powers principles that were the foundation of the Supreme Court’s recent decision are significantly diminished. Former President Trump no longer ‘alone composes a branch of government.’ He and Congress no longer have an ‘ongoing institutional relationship as the ‘opposite and rival’ political branches,’ and the Committee’s subpoena does not ‘unavoidably pit the political branches against one another.’

The new filing added that the “Committee’s need for the subpoenaed documents to address Presidential conflicts of interest far outweighs any harm to the Office of the President or the functioning of the Executive Branch.” The financial documents could provide an important tool for future legislative efforts to curtail any future corruption like that which unfolded during the Trump era.

To use one example, The Washington Post reported last October that, as of that point, the Trump Organization had billed the federal government for at least $2.5 million associated with charges imposed in connection to activities like Secret Service protection of Trump. That’s $2.5 million of taxpayer money that went straight into Trump’s business. Other potential issues revolve around conflicts of interest — Trump never financially disconnected himself from his business while in office, meaning that political forces hoping to garner favor from the then-president could visit his business establishments and financially support him. His overseas business connections could have also imposed a serious impediment to the impartial implementation of U.S. foreign policy.