Trump loses bid to block banks from providing family's business records to Democratic lawmakers

By Brendan Pierson NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S.

Reuters May 23, 2019 04:06:32 IST
Trump loses bid to block banks from providing family's business records to Democratic lawmakers

Trump loses bid to block banks from providing familys business records to Democratic lawmakers

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organization on Wednesday lost their bid to block Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp from providing financial records to Democratic lawmakers investigating Trump's businesses.

In a decision read from the bench after hearing arguments, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos in New York said that Congress has the legal authority to demand the records, clearing the way for the banks to comply with subpoenas issued to them by two U.S. House of Representatives committees last month.

The committees have agreed not to enforce the subpoenas for seven days, the judge said. It was the second time in three days that a judge had ruled against the Republican president in his fight with Democrats and Trump's lawyers were expected to appeal both decisions.

Ramos said he would not suspend his decision pending appeal.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Deutsche Bank said it would abide by the court's decision. Capital One did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Republican Trump, who is seeking re-election next year, has aggressively sought to defy congressional oversight of his administration since Democrats took control of the House in January.

Ramos said that the committees had the power to issue the subpoenas under Congress' "broad" power to conduct investigations to further legislation. He also rejected Trump's argument that they were barred by a federal financial privacy law, the Right to Financial Privacy Act, saying the law does not apply to congressional investigations.

Trump said last month that the administration was "fighting all the subpoenas" issued by the House, hardening his position after the release of a redacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller on how Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election to help Trump and the president's attempts to impede the investigation.

"We remain committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations and will abide by a court order regarding such investigations," Deutsche Bank spokeswoman Kerrie McHugh said in an emailed statement after the ruling.

Lawyers for the Trump family members and the Trump Organization declined to comment on the decision.

Some parts of the subpoenas have been included in court filings. The subpoena on Deutsche Bank seeks extensive records of accounts, transactions and investments linked to Trump, his three oldest children, their immediate family members and several Trump Organization entities, as well as records of ties they might have to foreign entities.

Deutsche Bank has long been a principal lender for Trump's real estate business and a 2017 disclosure form showed that Trump had at least $130 million of liabilities to the bank.

The subpoena on Capital One seeks records related to multiple entities tied to the Trump Organization's hotel business. In March, before issuing their subpoena, Democratic lawmakers asked Capital One for documents concerning potential conflicts of interest tied to Trump's Washington hotel and other business interests since he became president in January 2017.

Trump, his adult children, Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka, and the Trump Organization had sought a preliminary injunction to prevent Deutsche Bank complying with the subpoenas from the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, and Capital One from complying with a subpoena from the Financial Services Committee.

In a lawsuit filed on April 29, lawyers for the Trumps argued that the subpoenas were too broad, and that Democrats are hoping they will "stumble upon something" that could be used for political attacks on the president.

"The subpoenas were issued to harass President Donald J. Trump, to rummage through every aspect of his personal finances, his businesses, and the private information of the President and his family," the complaint said.

The banks are the only defendants in the case, but the House committees intervened to oppose Trump's effort to block the subpoenas.

Representative Maxine Waters, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, told reporters after the lawsuit was filed that Trump had "cast a gauntlet." "We will fight him," she said.

On Monday, a federal judge in Washington ruled against the president in a similar case, finding that Trump's accounting firm, Mazars LLP, must comply with a congressional subpoena for Trump's financial records.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta found that Congress was "not engaged in a fishing expedition for the President's financial records when it subpoenaed Mazars and said that documents obtained might assist Congress in passing laws and performing other core functions.

Trump called Mehta's decision "crazy" and "totally the wrong decision by obviously an Obama-appointed judge," referring to Trump's Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama. Ramos, the judge in the New York case, was also appointed by Obama.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; additional reporting by Matt Scuffham in New York and Jeff Mason in Washington; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Grant McCool)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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