The January 6 Select Committee just stirred up even more action. Its attorneys went before a new three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit, and its judges flatly denied Donald Trump’s attempts to exert executive privilege.
We used to think that leases, judicial decisions, and legal arguments verged on the edge of boredom, but not anymore. Not since Donald Trump breathed life into the court system. Two years ago, a district court made the decision that Trump’s financial records release should only extend for two years instead of eight, according to The New York Times.
In the course of its investigation, the House January 6 Select Committee wanted the former president’s financial records. They also wanted those including those of his D.C. Trump International Hotel, which was leased from the federal government. In the initial panel of three judges, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta said, according to The Washington Post:
‘You would agree with me that Congress has a duty to protect the Republic from threats both foreign and domestic?’
Mehta kept the subpoena in place but limited his presidential records to the years from 2017 to 2018 inclusive. That was when he ran his D.C. hotel.
Then, in this new three-judge panel, House General Counsel Douglas Letter asked Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan, U.S. Appeals Court judges Judith Rogers, and Ketanji Brown Jackson to uphold the committee subpoena fully and as soon as possible:
‘[S]o that the oversight committee has the ability to carry out some of its responsibilities.’
‘There were serious problems that could have gone to major national security concerns because of Mr. Trump’s financial interests with, for example Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Russia. There is so much smoke here, it is blinding and it’s hard to breathe.’
‘This is a subpoena about the presidency. The more you let Congress do to the former president, the more leverage they have over the current president. … There is no principled way to limit the fallout to President Trump.’
Jackson, on the other hand, said was worried about the separation of powers:
‘I am worried about another separation of powers problem. We also have to worry about the president encroaching on the powers of the Congress. You would agree with me that Congress has a duty to protect the Republic from threats both foreign and domestic?’
‘We also have to worry about the president encroaching on the powers of the Congress.’
‘You do have an executive branch and a legislative branch — but the person associated with this subpoena is neither of those.’
The judges asked, “what if the subpoenas went too far?” Whose responsibility would it be then?
The judges decided:
‘The Committee therefore is not engaged in a baseless fishing expedition.’
In the earlier Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. agreed with the Committee that Congress’s subpoenas could extend to a president’s personal financial records. However, in a seven to two ruling, the judged concluded the subpoena must be “no broader than reasonably necessary.”
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