NBC News reports that President Trump is suing House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman, Elijah Cummings, to block the subpoena requesting years of Trump’s financial records.
The lawsuit, filed by Trump’s lawyers in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks a court order preventing Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, from complying to what they call an abuse of power that “is just another example of overreach by the president’s political opponents”. They say the subpoena, issued by Cummings last week in response to Mazars requesting a “friendly subpoena”, lacks any “legitimate legislative purpose”.
The subpoena was issued to request financial documents to corroborate Michael Cohen’s testimony that Trump overvalued his assets for personal gain, misleading banks and insurers. In March, Cummings asked the accounting firm for financial statements and audits, as well as supporting documents and communications between Mazars and Trump.
The brief states, “There is no possible legislation at the end of this tunnel. The Oversight Committee is instead assuming the powers of the Department of Justice, investigating (dubious and partisan) allegations of illegal conduct by private individuals.”
The Washington Post points out that the lawsuit is the equivalent of the head of the executive branch demanding the judicial branch order the legislative branch to cease their investigation into the president’s past finances. For decades Congress has used their investigative power not just to research potential legislation but to also conduct oversight into the president’s past and current conduct. Trump is asking the court to negate that power.
Per NBC, Jay Sekulow, the president’s attorney, said, “We will not allow congressional presidential harassment to go unanswered.”
In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Chairman Cummings called it “baseless” and said, “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.”
The lawsuit comes as Democrats in Congress are conducting investigations and issuing subpoenas aimed at obtaining Trump’s financial records but also obtaining the unredacted Mueller report as well as looking into White House security clearances and the 2020 Census.