Trump’s strategy of stonewalling Congress faced its first major legal test today, and the judge didn’t let either side off the hook


In this May 13, 2019, photo, President Donald Trump listens to a question during a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. A federal judge in Washington is set to hold a hearing on May 14 on Trump's attempt to block a House subpoena seeking his financial records.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump faced his first major legal test over whether he can continue his strategy of stonewalling Congress as it seeks to investigate his financial dealings and foreign ties.
US District Court Judge Amit Mehta oversaw a hearing on whether the House Oversight Committee’s subpoena of Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for years of Trump’s financial records is lawful.
Lawyers representing Trump and several of his businesses argued that the committee’s subpoena does not serve a legitimate legislative purpose and is therefore invalid.
Lawyers representing the committee disagreed, saying the subpoena answers a legislative question because it seeks to uncover whether Trump violated the Ethics in Government Act and whether Congress needs to change the law.
Mehta did not rule on the issue Tuesday but pushed back hard on both sides’ arguments, indicating a drawn out fight ahead.
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President Donald Trump’s strategy of stonewalling Congress at every turn as it seeks to investigate him faced its first major test judicial test on Tuesday.

US District Court Judge Amit Mehta presided over a hearing in Washington, DC, that weighed Congress’ oversight powers against Trump’s claims of personal privacy.

At the center of the legal battle is a subpoena the House Oversight Committee sent to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, seeking several years of Trump’s financial records. House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings called it a “friendly subpoena” because Mazars USA had requested one from the committee before turning over records related to the president’s finances.

In turn, Trump and several of his businesses sued Mazars USA, Cummings, and Peter Kenny, the chief investigative counsel for House oversight Democrats, to block the subpoena.

Mehta kicked off the hearing by announcing he would not rule on the issue Tuesday, saying it presented some “serious” questions. “No judge would make a hasty decision on such important issues for the sake of expediency,” he said.

Still, the judge pushed both sides hard over the merits of their claims and didn’t let either of them off the hook.

Read more: The Trump Organization sues the chairman of the House Oversight Committee to block subpoena of Trump’s financial records

William Consovoy, an attorney representing Trump’s interests, started things off by reiterating an argument the president’s legal team made in its initial lawsuit and briefs: Congressional subpoenas that address a legislative purpose are valid, while subpoenas that serve a law enforcement or investigative purpose are not. Cummings’ subpoena, according to Trump’s lawyers, does not have a legislative purpose and is therefore invalid.

Consovoy also said Congress does not have the power to engage in law enforcement actions or investigations, which he said Cummings’ subpoena amounted to. He also said the committee does not have the right to investigate Trump and then take legislative steps if it uncovers something inappropriate or criminal.

“That crosses a line,” he said.

Meanwhile, Douglas Letter, the general counsel for the House of Representatives, argued that the subpoena answers a legislative purpose. Cummings has said he believes Trump may have violated the …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics

      

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