Trump sues to block subpoena for financial records

President Trump and his private business are suing House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) to try to block a subpoena requesting financial records from the president’s accountant.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday, asks a federal court in Washington, D.C., to prevent Cummings from obtaining records from Mazars USA, an accounting firm used by the president and his businesses, arguing congressional Democrats are abusing their subpoena power.

“Democrats are using their new control of congressional committees to investigate every aspect of President Trump’s personal finances, businesses, and even his family,” the suit reads. “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.”

The filing escalates the legal and political battle between Trump and House Democrats over their sweeping investigations into the president’s administration, campaign and businesses.

It’s a familiar tactic for the president, who in his previous life as a real estate mogul frequently used lawsuits to target those who put his business interests at risk. But this lawsuit is the first Trump has filed to fight congressional attempts to investigate his personal finances and businesses.

Cummings said in a statement to The Hill that Trump "has a long history of trying to use baseless lawsuits to attack his adversaries, but there is simply no valid legal basis to interfere with this duly authorized subpoena from Congress."

"This complaint reads more like political talking points than a reasoned legal brief, and it contains a litany of inaccurate information," he continued. "The White House is engaged in unprecedented stonewalling on all fronts, and they have refused to produce a single document or witness to the Oversight Committee during this entire year.”

Cummings last week issued a subpoena for eight years of financial records from Mazars after Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen testified before Cummings’s committee earlier this year that the president has misrepresented his personal net worth while seeking loans.

The Oversight chairman initially requested the documents on March 20, writing in a letter to the firm that Cohen accused Trump of having “changed the estimated value of his assets and liabilities on financial statements prepared by your company.”

Mazars had declined to hand over the documents voluntarily, requesting a subpoena be issued in order to provide Congress with the financial records.

But Trump’s private attorneys argue Cummings has no “legitimate legislative purpose” in demanding the financial records. Rather, they argue, he is trying to expose Trump and his private business’ financial information “with the hope that it will turn up something that Democrats can use as a political tool against the president now and in the 2020 election.”

In the 14-page court filing, Trump’s attorneys characterize Cohen as a “felon who has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.” And they allege that Cummings has “ignored the constitutional limits on Congress’ power to investigate.”

“Congress cannot use investigations to exercise powers that the Constitution assigns to the executive or judicial branch,” it reads.

The lawsuit also targets House Democrats generally for the myriad investigations they have opened into the president and his businesses since they took control of the House in January, calling Cohen’s testimony before Cummings's committee “one of the worst examples of the House Democrats’ zeal to attack President Trump under the guise of investigations.”

The fights shows how Trump continues to grapple with legal problems even after special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigated concluded without charging him with a crime.

Federal prosecutors in New York City are investigating hush money payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and another woman before the 2016 elections after Daniels threatened to state publicly that Trump had an extramarital affair with her, an allegation the president denies. The prosecutors said a court filing that the payments, which they say break campaign finance law, were made by Cohen at Trump’s direction.

House Democrats have pledged to investigate dozens of Trump-related topics, including the hush money payments, Trump’s dealings with Russia, security clearances for top White House advisers and whether foreign powers have infiltrated the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla.

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