WASHINGTON >> A federal judge in Washington ruled today against President Donald Trump in a financial records dispute with Congress.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, said Trump cannot block a House subpoena of financial records. He said the Democratic-led House committee seeking the information has said it believes the documents would help lawmakers consider strengthening ethics and disclosure laws, among other things.
The committee’s reasons were “valid legislative purposes,” Mehta said, and it was not for him “to question whether the Committee’s actions are truly motivated by political considerations.”
The decision comes amid a widespread effort by the White House and the president’s lawyers to refuse to cooperate with congressional requests for information and records.
In the case before Mehta, Trump and his business organization sued to block the subpoena issued in April to Mazars USA, an accountant for the president and Trump Organization. Trump’s lawyers accused Democrats of harassing Trump and said the subpoena “has no legitimate legislative purpose.”
Trump’s lawyers, in suing in both Washington and New York in attempt to beat back congressional subpoenas, said congressional investigations are legitimate only if there is legislation that might result from them.
In the New York case, Trump, his business and family have sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One to prevent the financial companies from complying with subpoenas from the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee for banking and financial records. A Wednesday hearing is planned in that case.
Even before the ruling, scholars had said Trump’s legal argument had little merit and that Congress has broad powers to investigate.