Trump loses appeal to block banks from handing his financial records to Congress

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President Donald Trump listens during a listening session on youth vaping of electronic cigarette on November 22, 2019 in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Deutsche Bank and Capital One can hand over years of President Donald Trump’s financial records in compliance with House Democrats’ subpoenas.

The ruling in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals offers another judicial loss for Trump, who has fought off attempts to obtain his financial records, including his tax returns, through multiple lawsuits.

The case is likely destined for the Supreme Court, where the president has already appealed two other lower court decisions requiring the disclosure of his financial records.

“We believe the subpoena is invalid as issued,” the Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow said in a statement. “In light of the Second Circuit decision, we are evaluating our next options including seeking review at the Supreme Court of the United States.”

In May, U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that the two banks can comply with subpoenas issued by the Democrat-led House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees to hand over financial records related to Trump, his businesses and members of his family.

Trump appealed Ramos’ ruling two days later.

Tuesday’s decision was issued by a divided three judge panel made up of two Republican appointees and one Democratic appointee. 

Circuit Judge Jon Newman, a Carter appointee, wrote in the court’s decision that the House committees interest in “pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest than whatever public interest inheres in avoiding the risk of a Chief Executive’s distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions.”

Newman also emphasized in the opinion that the issues raised by the lawsuit “do not concern a dispute between the Legislative and Executive Branches” because the subpoenas sought Trump’s personal, rather than official, records. 

But in a partial dissent, Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston, a George W. Bush appointee, rejected that argument, and called the subpoenas “deeply troubling.”

“I cannot accept the majority’s conclusions that ‘this case does not concern separation of powers,’ and that there is ‘minimal at best’ risk of distraction to this and future Presidents from legislative subpoenas of this sort,” she wrote.

Livingston said she would send the case back to a lower court and require the House committees to provide more details about the legislative purposes behind their requests before deciding whether the banks must comply. 

The two related cases already before the Supreme Court involve subpoenas issued to the president’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA.

The justices are likely to decide soon whether to hear the cases. On Thursday, the president’s private legal team is expected to submit its formal petition to the top court asking it to review a decision by the federal appeals court in Washington that ordered Mazars to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee.

The justices will meet in private later this month to discuss the petition in the other case, over a subpoena issued to the firm by state prosecutors in New York.

Trump’s lawyers have argued in multiple lawsuits that the various requests for his financial records have no “legitimate legislative purpose” and are being pursued merely as an attempt to embarrass the president for political gain.

That legal argument has so far failed to sway judges in New York and Washington and was similarly rejected by the three-judge panel in the Second Circuit.

Trump has defied calls to publicly release his tax returns and provided a variety of explanations for his failure to do so. He is the first president in more than 40 years not to voluntarily make his tax records public.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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