President Donald Trump’s efforts to keep his political opponents from getting his financial records took a big hit Friday when a federal court upheld a subpoena from House Democrats in a 2-1 ruling.
The case stems from a subpoena sent by the House Oversight Committee to Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, in April “for records related to work performed for President Trump and several of his business entities both before and after he took office” the ruling explained.
While the committee claims it needs the documents for an evaluation of current government ethics laws, the president’s team has told the court that the investigation “serves no legitimate legislative purpose.”
The opinion from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals found, “Contrary to the President’s arguments, the Committee possesses authority under both the House Rules and the Constitution to issue the subpoena, and Mazars must comply.” The judges added that “in issuing the challenged subpoena, the Committee was engaged in a ‘legitimate legislative investigation.'”
One of the two judges who issued the majority opinion was appointed by former President Bill Clinton, the other by former President Barack Obama. The lone dissenter in the three-judge decision was Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee confirmed to the bench earlier this year following some social conservatives’ concerns about her jurisprudential views on life and abortion.
In her dissent, Rao said the court’s opinion blurred the “consistent line” between Congress’ legislative powers and its impeachment powers.
“The Committee on Oversight and Reform has consistently maintained that it seeks to determine whether the President broke the law, but it has not invoked Congress’s impeachment power to support this subpoena,” Rao’s dissent explains.
“When Congress seeks information about the President’s wrongdoing, it does not matter whether the investigation also has a legislative purpose,” Rao continued. “Allowing the Committee to issue this subpoena for legislative purposes would turn Congress into a roving inquisition over a co-equal branch of government.”
The court also ordered that the ruling’s effects will be put on hold in order to give the president and his legal team the opportunity to appeal the decision.