“Put simply, the power of Congress to conduct investigations is inherent in the legislative process”, US District Judge Edgardo Ramos said, reading from a 25-page opinion rejecting Donald Trump’s bid to block Deutsche Bank and Capital One from complying with congressional demands for documents related to the president and his businesses.
Trump (along with, Ivanka, Eric and Don Jr.) sued late last month, after Adam Schiff issued what he described as “friendly” subpoenas to several financial institutions. That effort was carried out in conjunction with Maxine Waters’s House Financial Services committee. Waters has zeroed in on Trump’s relationship with Deutsche, one of the few banks willing to deal with the president.
Trump relied on the same excuse in the suit against Deutsche and Capital One that he’s leaning on more generally as the White House attempts to stymie multiple congressional probes. Namely, Trump’s attorneys have argued that lawmakers lack a legitimate legislative purpose.
“The subpoenas were issued to harass President Donald J. Trump, to rummage through every aspect of his personal finances, his businesses and the private information of the president and his family, and to ferret about for any material that might be used to cause him political damage. No grounds exist to establish any purpose other than a political one”, Trump’s lawyers argued, in the complaint against the banks.
Ramos heard arguments both from Trump’s lawyers and attorneys for the congressional committees. Ultimately, Ramos seemed to reject the notion that Congress is limited to conducting investigations that may ultimately lead to legislation but he also said the subpoenas in question are “undeniably broad but… clearly pertinent.” In other words, there is a purpose for these, other than just to smear the president.
Trump’s request for a preliminary injunction was denied. That really doesn’t matter, though, because, as Ramos noted, the president and his family likely wouldn’t succeed on the merits anyway.
Earlier this week, US District Judge Amit Mehta ruled against the president in a similar suit Trump filed to block Mazars USA from turning over documents to Elijah Cummings and the House Oversight committee. Trump immediately appealed.
An attorney for Trump said it’s “probably a safe bet” he’ll appeal Wednesday’s ruling as well. It’s also a “safe bet” that he’ll lose – or at least if Ramos’s logic is any semblance of legally sound.
In addition to being the second legal setback in three days for Trump, Wednesday’s ruling comes just 72 hours after the latest bombshell report on the president’s relationship with Deutsche Bank.
On Sunday evening, the New York Times said that according to multiple former employees of the bank, anti-money laundering experts and Deutsche’s computer systems flagged a series of transactions tied to entities controlled by Trump and Jared Kushner as potentially suspicious. Everyone – Deutsche, Kushner Companies and Trump himself, on Twitter – claimed the story was either meritless or misleading.
Democrats are excited about Wednesday’s ruling. “I am very pleased but not surprised”, Cummings (whose committee was not directly involved in this particular case) said.
“Another Day, another very important ruling”, Schiff quipped. “Different judge, same opinion: the Trump legal arguments are without merit.”
As for Nancy Pelosi, she too was pleased. “Two in one week: Mazars Monday, Deutsche Bank today,” the Speaker said.