The House Oversight and Reform Committee is one step closer to obtaining President Donald Trump’s financial records–but the end might still be just out of sight.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta upheld the Committee’s subpoena on Monday, arguing that it has the authority to examine Trump’s records.
But what happens next?
Both sides have agreed to a waiting period for the next seven days. In that period, Mazars, Trump’s accounting firm, cannot release any documents.
The first step for Trump’s legal team is to appeal the ruling within that time frame. Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said that they “will be filing a timely notice of appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.”
An earlier request to issue a stay on the ruling from another Trump attorney, William Consovoy, was denied. Mehta ruled that the the public interest in “maximizing the effectiveness of the investigatory powers of Congress” was greater than possible damages to Trump.
Without a stay on the ruling, Mazar’s could theoretically comply with any subsequent request from the House Committee to disclose Trump’s financial records before an appeals court intervenes. The appeals court would have to step in first to prevent the firm from complying.
Even if the case were to make it to the appeals court before any records are shared, legal experts widely expect that Trump’s legal reasoning will not hold up in court. If the subpoena is upheld, Trump would be legally obligated to provide these records to Congress, paving the way for deeper investigations into Trump’s finances and the Trump Organization.
Mazars did not take a legal position on the case and has said that it “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”
Trump called the ruling “crazy” on Monday.
“We disagree with that ruling, it’s crazy,” he told reporters. “As far as the financials are concerned, it’s totally the wrong decision by obviously an Obama-appointed judge.”
“This has never happened to any other president,” he added, arguing that Democrats were seeking an opportunity to even out the score following the conclusion of Mueller’s investigation. “The Democrats were very upset with the Mueller report, as perhaps they should be,” he said.
Mehta’s ruling is the first time a federal court has weighed in on the issue of Congressional subpoena power versus executive privilege. While lengthy litigation on the matter of Trump’s financial records is to be expected, the outcome will have far-reaching implications for similar instances in which the House is seeking other records from Trump and members of his cabinet.
The House has already flagged the ruling to a judge in New York who is currently considering House subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Capitol One for other Trump financial records.
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