The US President and the Trump Organization commenced legal proceedings last night in a Washington D.C District Court.
Trump took action against Elijah Cummings, Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Cummings had previously authorised subpoenas for an audit and accounting firm to obtain financial records associated with Trump’s company.
The lawsuit argues that the subpoena for Trump’s financial records overstepped the authority given to Congress by the Constitution. It says any investigation must serve a legitimate legislative purpose and that Congress does not have an unfettered right to investigate the executive branch.
Cummings referred to the testimony under oath of Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who told Congress that Trump had grossly exaggerated his net worth. In authorising the subpoena, Cummings said that Cohen’s testimony and other documents he had seen “raise grave question about whether the President has been accurate in his financial reporting.”
President Trump and his businesses sued Democrats to try to quash a congressional subpoena for their financial records https://t.co/vv2TJPAC3t
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 22, 2019
Trump says the Democrats have no valid reason to obtain his financial records
The lawsuit claims the subpoena is little more than what is termed a ‘fishing expedition’, where a party subpoenas information in the mere hope of turning up something damning. “Its goal is to expose Plaintiffs’ private financial information for the sake of exposure 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,” it reads.
In a statement released on Monday, Trump Attorney Jay Sekulow said: “We will not allow congressional presidential harassment to go unanswered.”
Cummings responded by saying the lawsuit had no legal merit.
“The president 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 authorised subpoena from Congress,” he said.
“This complaint reads more like political talking points than a reasoned legal brief, and it contains a litany of inaccurate information. 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.”
House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said his committee has subpoenaed the US Justice Department to get the Mueller report in its entirety, and said the department must comply by May 1. https://t.co/nBdZy8SvpQ
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) April 22, 2019
Trump also facing possible release of his tax returns, complete Mueller report
The House Judiciary Committee has also issued a subpoena to obtain the unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report and accompanying evidence. Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said he is prepared to go to court to obtain the documents.
New York Democrat Nadler said the public had a right to know what was in the Mueller report. “Even the redacted version of the report outlines serious instances of wrongdoing by President Trump and some of his closest associates,” he said in a statement. “It now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct and to decide what steps we must take going forward.”
Earlier in April, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal had sought the President’s personal and business tax returns from the past six years.
The convention has been for presidential candidates to release their tax returns during the campaign but Trump refused to do so.
White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Congress was too dumb to understand Trump’s tax affairs. “I don’t think Congress, particularly this group of congressmen and women, are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume President Trump’s taxes will be,” she told Fox News Sunday. “My guess is most of them don’t do their own taxes, and I certainly don’t trust them to look through the decades of success the president’s had and determine anything.”