Indian-American judge to fast-track ruling on House subpoena for Trump accounting records

WASHINGTON – A federal judge will fast-track a decision on President Donald Trump’s bid to quash a House subpoena for financial records from his accounting firm, saying he will decide the full case, not just whether to temporarily block the subpoena while the case proceeds, after a hearing Tuesday.

Judge Amit P. Mehta was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on December 22, 2014. (Photo dcd.uscourts.gov)

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta made his announcement Thursday in a brief notice to both sides after receiving a first round of written arguments in the case. The lawsuit was brought April 22 by Trump and several of his businesses against House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Trump’s accounting firm.

“The sole question before the court – Is the House Oversight Committee’s issuance of a subpoena to Mazars USA LLP for financial records of President Donald Trump and various associated entities a valid exercise of legislative power? – is fully briefed, and the court can discern no benefit from an additional round of legal arguments,” Mehta wrote.

Mehta, a 2004 Obama appointee, gave all sides until Monday to file any further comments ahead of oral arguments previously set for 11 a.m. Tuesday in Washington.

The announcement means that any appeal of a decision in the case could reach an appeals court by the summer.

The lawsuit over the subpoena is one of a growing number of efforts by the president to shield his personal finances from investigators, including congressional Democrats, state lawmakers and regulators, looking into aspects of his life and business.

The lawsuit has been a flash point in a standoff over the constitutional balance of powers between the legislative and executive branches, with congressional Democrats accusing Trump of stonewalling or slow-walking them; Trump’s lawyers countered that they would not tolerate a campaign of “congressional Presidential harassment.”

Trump sues in bid to block congressional subpoena of financial records

Cummings’ panel last month subpoenaed Mazars, seeking documents to corroborate testimony of the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who said at a congressional hearing that Trump intentionally misreported the value of his assets for personal gain.

Other House panels have requested Trump’s banking records and tax returns, while his company also faces inquiries from New York state regulators and is defending itself against plaintiffs in two lawsuits alleging that his company violates the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments.

In suing the House as well as his banks and accounting firm, Trump’s lawyers argued that the president’s past personal dealings are irrelevant to the legislative branch’s fundamental duty of writing bills. They accuse Democrats of “assuming the powers of the Department of Justice, investigating (dubious and partisan) allegations of illegal conduct by private individuals.”

A lawyer for the Trump Organization did not immediately reply Thursday to a request for comment on the judge’s notice.

Cummings’s committee has called Trump’s bid to quash the subpoena a long-shot bid to delay the unearthing of politically damaging information about Trump until after the 2020 election, and to obscure from the public ongoing conflicts of interest by officials charged with executing the nation’s laws.

“Trump’s attacks on the Committee’s investigations amount to nothing more than political histrionics and hyperbole,” the panel’s lawyers wrote, calling the subpoena consistent with Congress’ duties to weigh legislation, conduct oversight, manage spending of tax dollars and informing the public.

Mazars attorney Henry Schuelke has said the firm took no position on the case.

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