Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said Monday Democrats can’t just get President Trump’s financial records “because they want to torment him” and “Congress will have to state for what purpose they want this.”
Napolitano made the comments on “America’s Newsroom” hours after Trump's lawyers sued to block a subpoena issued by members of Congress that sought the president's financial records.
The complaint named Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Peter Kenny, the chief investigative counsel of the House committee, as its plaintiffs.
"We will not allow Congressional Presidential harassment to go unanswered," said Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president.
Earlier this month, Cummings, D-Md., said the committee would subpoena the accounting firm Mazars USA LLC for Trump’s financial information. Cummings is seeking annual statements, periodic financial reports and independent auditors reports from Mazars, as well as records of communications with Trump.
“The question is if the subpoena goes from the House of Representatives to a third party to his accountants can the president jump in the middle of that and seek to quash the subpoena? The answer is yes,” said Napolitano.
He added, “The complaint actually asks the court to second- guess Congress's motivation and courts are reluctant to do that because the courts and the Congress are equal branches of government. They don't get in the business of second-guessing the motivation of either. However, Congress has to have a legitimate legislative purpose for wanting the president's tax returns and financial records. They can't just get them because he’s the president and because his predecessors have exposed this type of material about themselves and they can't just get them because they want to torment him. They have to have a legitimate purpose.”
“So Congress will have to answer this complaint, establish a purpose, it doesn't have to be a purpose directly out of the Constitution, it could be something tangentially related to what Congress does that’ll probably suffice. But, if they can't show that purpose, then they’re going to lose. Then the subpoena will be quashed,” Napolitano said.
In the suit on Monday, Trump’s lawyers ask the court to declare the subpoena “invalid and unenforceable.” It also asks for a “permanent injunction quashing Chairman Cummings’ subpoena.”
Trump's suit also asks for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting Mazars from producing the requested information.
“Congress will have to state for what purpose they want this,” said Napolitano adding, “Once they state something even related to a congressional purpose, the court, I think, will allow this to go through.”
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta, a 2014 appointee of then-President Barack Obama.
Fox News’ Alex Pappas, John Roberts and Bill Mears contributed to this report.