Accounting firm Mazars has been ordered by a federal district judge to release the President’s accounting records from the time before he took office to the House Oversight Committee.
Judge Amit Mehta rejected President Donald Trump’s attempt to block the Democratic-controlled committee from obtaining his records, arguing in his 41-page opinion that the subpoena to investigate the President is within the panel’s authority.
CNN writes that Mehta’s ruling may set a precedent for other judges to likewise consider rejecting the administration’s attempts to prevent Congress from obtaining Trump’s business records through the IRS, banks and in other court fights.
The judge noted in his opinion that Congress has the authority to look into the President for conflicts of interest and ethical questions, citing several such instances from history, including the Watergate scandal to support his ruling.
“History has shown that congressionally-exposed criminal conduct by the president or a high-ranking Executive Branch official can lead to legislation,” he wrote. “It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a president for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct — past or present — even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”
President Trump’s legal team will almost certainly appeal the decision, a source has said.
Mehta said that the accounting firm will not have to turn over the subpoena for another seven days, but after that Mazars will have to comply with Congress.
“The court is well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the President of the United States. But on the question of whether to grant a stay pending appeal, the President is subject to the same legal standard as any other litigant that does not prevail,” the judge said in his ruling.
The ruling was applauded by Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, who stressed that it represented a “resounding victory for the rule of law and our Constitutional system of checks and balances.”
“The court recognized the basic, but crucial fact that Congress has authority to conduct investigations as part of our core function under the Constitution,” the Democratic chairman said.