Federal Judge Amit Mehta has ordered the release of certain Trump financial records to the House Oversight Committee, which has been after the materials in hopes of addressing the rampant corruption of the Trump era. Mehta’s order targets Trump’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA, which has now been required by the judge to deliver the documents to Congress.
The House Oversight Committee issued a subpoena for certain portions of Trump’s financial records back in 2019, but in the time since, the panel has been engaged in a legal back-and-forth over whether they’d actually get the materials. After Mehta previously ruled in Congressional investigators’ favor, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered the judge to re-examine the case, prompting this new ruling. Mehta’s new ruling limits the documents that Congressional investigators may obtain. According to Reuters, the judge “said Mazars should turn over documents relating to Trump’s hotel in Washington, D.C., saying the committee proved that it needed them to evaluate potential legislation and conduct government oversight,” but the judge blocked the committee from obtaining financial disclosure forms that Trump submitted to federal authorities.
That D.C. hotel provided an opportunity for patrons to offer direct financial support to the then-president of the United States during Trump’s term, since he never financially disconnected himself from his business while in office. Political interests could go to any one of his properties during that time and spend money in hopes of corruptly garnering favor from the then-president. Relatedly, as president, Trump was in a unique position since the federal government leased the building to Trump’s company where the D.C. hotel has been housed. This arrangement, in which Trump sat at the helm of the entity providing a lease to his own company, could’ve allowed for corruption.
Mehta said, however, that he was “left wondering about the necessity (or even unique usefulness) of President Trump’s personal papers,” leaving those other documents out of Congressional investigators’ reach. Separately, the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice recently concluded that the Internal Revenue Service “must” provide years of Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, as reported by CNBC. Current federal law allows the chairperson of that committee to, in most circumstances, obtain tax returns of individual taxpayers, and the Justice Department office in question concluded that Trump was not exempt from this provision. Despite this conclusion, Congressional investigators apparently won’t actually obtain the tax returns for months at least, amid a federal court case in which Trump is arguing for his tax returns to be kept from the committee.