Judge Amit Mehta just upheld a House Oversight Committee subpoena for Trump’s financial records.
A Washington, DC, federal judge has ruled against President Donald Trump in his fight to block House Democrats from getting his financial records, giving Democrats the first edge in their battle with the White House over congressional oversight.
In a Tuesday ruling, Judge Amit Mehta of the DC District Court decisively ruled in favor of the House Oversight Committee, whose chair, Elijah Cummings had subpoenaed 10 years’ worth of Trump’s financial records from accounting firm Mazars USA back in April.
“To be sure, there are limits on Congress’s investigative authority. But those limits do not substantially constrain Congress. So long as Congress investigates on a subject matter on which ‘legislation could be had,’ Congress acts as contemplated by Article I of the Constitution,” Mehta wrote. “Applying those principles here compels the conclusion that President Trump cannot block the subpoena to Mazars.”
Cummings moved to get those records following Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony, where Trump’s former personal lawyer claimed that Trump had misrepresented his net worth as a private citizen.
The president immediately tried to quash that subpoena in April, taking House Democrats to court and arguing the committee had overstepped its powers. White House lawyers argued Democrats didn’t have a legitimate legislative reason to pursue the information, and just wanted his financial records for political purposes.
But the judge sided with Democrats, saying that history — from the 1920s Teapot Dome Scandal to 1970s Watergate — has shown that congressional oversight into presidential misconduct can ultimately lead to legislative changes. Furthermore, Mehta wrote that years of past court decisions on Congress’s investigative power show “courts must presume Congress is acting in furtherance of its constitutional responsibility to legislate and must defer to congressional judgments about what Congress needs to carry out that purpose.”