WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and his private business filed a federal lawsuit Monday to block the House from obtaining financial records from the company’s longtime accountant.
The 14-page complaint, which reads like a cross between a campaign ad and a traditional lawsuit, accuses House Democrats of having “declared all-out political war” with “subpoenas are their weapon on choice.” It asks a federal court to prevent the Trump Organization's accounting firm, Mazars USA, from being forced to turn over financial records to congressional investigators.
The lawsuit is the latest salvo in a series of investigation that are continuing into Trump and his businesses in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. That probe ended without a finding that Trump had committed a crime, but federal prosecutors and a half-dozen congressional committees are conducting separate investigations of the president and his business.
Trump's lawsuit Monday came in response to a subpoena issued last week by the House Oversight and Reform Committee for Mazars, the longtime accountant for Trump and his businesses, seeking eight years of financial documents.
Trump lawyers argued that the subpoena was invalid because it lacked “a legitimate legislative purpose." The lawyers asked for the subpoena to be ruled invalid and for an order to block Mazars from producing the requested information.
"We will not allow congressional presidential harassment to go unanswered," said Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president.
Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., has said the committee sought Trump’s financial documents to determine whether Trump has accurately reported his own finances. Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who heads to prison in May for crimes including lying to Congress, told the committee in February that Trump routinely inflated his holdings to obtain loans.
“The president has a long history of trying to use baseless lawsuits to attack his adversaries, but there is simply no valid legal basis to interfere with this duly authorized subpoena from Congress," Cummings said on Monday. "The White House is engaged in unprecedented stonewalling on all fronts, and they have refused to produce a single document or witness to the Oversight Committee during this entire year.”
One of Cohen's lawyers, Lanny Davis, said his team trusts that the court will deal fairly with the issues.
“The reasons for Mr. Trump’s desperate attempt to prevent his tax returns from being made public – like all prior president – is no mystery," Davis said. "Does anyone doubt he has something to hide?"
The case was assigned to Judge Amit Mehta.
The subpoena coincided with a request from the House Ways and Means Committee to the Internal Revenue Service for Trump’s tax returns. In both cases, lawmakers have said they are searching for possible wrongdoing by the president.