President Trump’s legal team on Thursday requested that a federal court block the House Oversight Committee’s demands for his financial statements, calling their requests unconstitutional.
The president’s legal team, in a 24-page filing, asked the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to prohibit Trump accounting firm Mazars USA from “enforcing or complying” with a subpoena issued by the committee last month.
It was unclear how soon the court might rule.
First reported by the Washington Post, the filing said the committee’s subpoena to Mazars “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose,” and is an “unconstitutional attempt to exercise ‘the powers of law enforcement.’”
Trump’s lawyers also argued that the committee, led by Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., is leading several Trump-focused investigations.
“Chairman Cummings flat-out admitted that he wanted to ‘investigate whether the President may have engaged in illegal conduct before and during his tenure in office’ and ‘review whether he has accurately reported his finances to the Office of Government Ethics and other federal entities,’” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the filing.
The filing comes after Cummings’ committee issued several subpoenas for Mazars Accounting in an effort to obtain financial documents and audits prepared for Trump and his businesses over the last decade. Cummings also said he would issue a subpoena for independent auditor’s reports, annual statements and other documents related to Trump’s finances spanning from 2011 to 2018.
At the time, Mazars said it “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”
Also this week, leaders of the House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees have agreed to turn over parts of the subpoenas they sent to Deutsche Bank and Capital One over Trump’s financial statements, according to a letter sent by Trump’s legal team Wednesday evening. Trump’s suit against Deutsche Bank and Capital One is asking for the court to also block those subpoenas from the committees, declaring those are also unlawful.
Meanwhile, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal is also seeking Trump’s tax returns, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin denied the request, also saying that it lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose.”
“As you have recognized, the Committee’s request is unprecedented, and it presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers,” Mnuchin wrote in a letter this week to Neal, D-Mass., and added that he’d relied on Justice Department advice, which was that the department was “not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information.”
The topic has been a contentious one for the president since his time on the campaign trail in 2015, and throughout his administration, as he has refused to release his financial information. Trump repeatedly has claimed that his tax returns are complicated, and has maintained that he will not release them while they are under audit by the Internal Revenue Service.
But this week, "The New York Times" obtained Trump’s federal income tax returns between 1985 and 1994. The documents revealed that Trump claimed to have lost $1.17 billion from his real estate businesses during that decade. The Times added that it had compared Trump’s tax information with other high-income earners and found that Trump “appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer. The newspaper also reported that the losses were so substantial, that in the eight of the ten years in question, Trump was able to avoid paying income tax.
House Democrats have been targeting Trump’s tax returns and financial documents since they took the majority in Congress in January. As part of their lead-off ethics package, which Trump’s lawyers cited in their filing Wednesday, Democrats’ legislation required presidents to disclose at least 10 years of their tax returns to the public, in what was an apparent swipe at Trump.
Fox News' Kristin Brown, Samuel Chamberlain and The Associated Press contributed to this report.