House Democrats can get some of Trump’s tax records from accounting firm Mazars USA, judge says
The move is a resounding loss for Trump, given that accounting records appear to cover financial information the former president fiercely protected.
This is a major step towards resolving the long-standing struggle for access to Trump’s tax records. Trump was able to delay the subpoena by taking the case to court, appealing to the Supreme Court. This legal fight lasted more than two years.
The case is a continuation of the House Income Tax Returns case that traveled to the Supreme Court. Now, District Judge Amit Mehta has weighed the House’s request for Trump’s financial records against the standards set out by the Supreme Court in its 7-2 decision last year.
With this Supreme Court opinion in mind, Mehta confirmed those parts of the House subpoena that addressed the stated need for lawmakers to review the legislation regarding the issues of the foreign emoluments clause and the lease of General Service Administration with the Trump Hotel in the Old Post Office building in Washington. The committee can also access certain financial documents from 2017 and 2018, Mehta decided.
Mehta has ruled that Mazars’ subpoena in some respects should be treated like any subpoena it issues, especially as the committee is investigating Trump’s Washington, DC hotel lease with the federal government.
“The committee presented ‘detailed and substantial’ evidence that President Trump, at least through his business interests, likely received foreign payments during his tenure as president,” Mehta wrote of the clause. emoluments, which prohibits the acceptance of gifts from foreign countries. without the approval of Congress. The judge noted that the Trump Organization made more than $ 400,000 in payments to the Treasury Department during Trump’s presidency, “validating the Committee’s belief that President Trump’s business received foreign payments during his presidency.”
“The Committee is therefore not engaged in a baseless fishing expedition.”
But Mehta said the committee could not obtain tax files on Trump that date from before his presidency until 2011. Mehta said the justifications offered by the House committee for the other files he cited to appear, which the committee said it needed for potential legislation around presidential financial disclosures, “does not justify the disclosure of President Trump’s personal and corporate financial records when weighed against separation of powers concerns raised by the broad scope of his subpoena “.
Looking at the records the House committee was seeking for its investigation into the Trump Hotel’s GSA contract, Mehta found that the separation of powers principles “have little or no force.”
“By freely contracting with the GSA for his own private economic gain, and not relinquishing power upon assuming office, President Trump has opened himself up to potential scrutiny from the very committee whose jurisdiction includes” management of government operations and activities, including government procurement, “the judge wrote. “The fact that he held the presidency for part of his still-in-force lease does not change that fact.”
Mazars lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN, nor did a spokesperson for the House Oversight Committee. A lawyer for Trump did not immediately comment.
This case is separate from the dispute over Trump’s tax filing request issued by the House Ways and Means committee. In the Ways and Means case, a judge won’t decide until November whether lawmakers can get the Trump tax records that the Ways and Means requested from the IRS.
This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN’s Kara Scannell contributed to this report.