In a letter to Mazars USA obtained by Politico, President Trump’s attorneys warn of possible legal action if the firm complies with a subpoena from the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
William S. Consovoy and Stefan Passantino, lawyers for Trump, wrote to Jerry Bernstein, Mazars’ outside counsel, to urge the accounting firm to defy the subpoena that Elijah Cummings, chairman of the committee, is expected to issue requesting more than a decade of Trump’s financial documents.
Consovoy and Passantino called the subpoena a politically motivated scheme to harm the president, writing, “It is no secret that the Democrat Party has decided to use its new House majority to launch a flood of investigations into the president’s personal affairs in hopes of using anything they can find to damage him politically.”
The letter implied a legal threat as the attorneys formally put Mazars USA “on notice” in it. The lawyers listed legal precedents that would prevent compliance with Cumming’s subpoena and suggested a legal battle will follow as they asked that the accounting firm refrain from handing over the requested documents to the committee until the subpoena can be litigated.
The Oversight Committee formally requested the documents to corroborate Michael Cohen’s testimony that his former client, Donald Trump, artificially inflated and deflated the value of his assets for personal profit. The committee is particularly interesting in Trump’s failed attempt to purchase the Buffalo Bills, according to Politico.
CNN reports that Mazars USA requested a “friendly” subpoena in response to the committee’s letter, telling Cummings in a letter, “pursuant, to the company’s legal obligations, Mazars cannot voluntarily turn over the documents ‘unless disclosure is made pursuant to, among other things, a congressional subpoena”.
Trump’s attorneys called into question the committee’s legal authority to conduct an investigation into the president’s finances, saying, “The House Oversight Committee is not a miniature Department of Justice, charged with investigating and prosecuting potential federal crimes. It is a legislative body, not ‘a law enforcement or trial agency,’ and the chairman’s attempt to assume for Congress the role of police, prosecutor, and judge is unconstitutional,” according to Politico.
Jim Jordan, ranking member on the Oversight Committee, wrote a memo on Monday which mirrored the president’s attorney’s arguments, saying, “I strongly object to Chairman Cummings’ unprecedented subpoena to Mazars and his irresponsible and gravely dangerous course of conduct in a singular obsession of attacking President Trump and his family for political gain,” and calling Cummings’ decision to issue the subpoena unilaterally due to the two-week recess a “grave abuse of power”.
Cummings, like his counterpart on the Judiciary Committee, has the authority to issue unilateral subpoenas but has opted to hold votes for subpoenas thus far in the new congress. The chair asked for feedback from the committee in lieu of a markup for the subpoena since congress is in recess, per CNN.