Updated April 22, 12:56 p.m.
WASHINGTON — President Trump really doesn’t want House Democrats poking around in his finances. So on Monday morning, he slapped one of them with a lawsuit, demanding a judge make it stop.
Trump and a handful of his companies filed suit against Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, to block the committee’s subpoena of records from Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA. The filing asks the judge to void the subpoena, arguing that the investigation into Trump’s finances is based on nothing more than partisan political harassment.
“The Democrat Party, with its newfound control of the U.S. House of Representatives, has declared all-out political war against President Donald J. Trump,” the document reads. “Subpoenas are their weapon of choice.“
Cummings’ committee subpoenaed Mazars last week for eight years’ worth of financial statements, communications and supporting documents regarding President Trump and his businesses. The move followed Congressional testimony from Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime attorney and self-styled “fixer,” who claimed that Trump regularly misrepresented the size of his fortune in statements to banks and insurance companies. Cohen also handed over copies of those statements, which had been prepared by Mazars.
Trump’s lawsuit argues that Congressional investigations must be attached to some pending legislation — and that an inquiry focused solely on the question of whether the president may have engaged in criminal conduct should be ruled invalid, because it has no such basis.
“There is no possible legislation at the end of this tunnel,” the document says. “Chairman Cummings has ignored the constitutional limits on Congress’ power to investigate.”
Cummings issued his own statement in reply: “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. This complaint reads more like political talking points than a reasoned legal brief, and it contains a litany of inaccurate information. 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.”
Trump has previously called investigations into his finances a “red line” — though House Democrats have shown little interest in observing it, especially following Cohen’s public assertions about Trump’s past business practices. The House Ways & Means Committee has also launched an effort to obtain Trump’s tax returns using a decades-old and little-known provision of the law that allows that committee’s chairman to request pretty much anyone’s filings. The White House has pushed back, saying it will fight that request.
Cover: United States President Donald J. Trump delivers opening remarks at the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride event at the White House in Washington on April 18, 2019. He began by discussing the release of the report regarding the investigation conducted by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, stating it was a good day for him, there was no collision, and he hopes this never happens to another sitting president. Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/CNP | usage worldwide Photo by: Stefani Reynolds/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images