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Federal Appeals Court Rejects Trump's Appeal of Subpoena for His Tax Returns

11 October 2019

President Donald Trump answers questions from reporters during an event on "transparency in Federal guidance and enforcement" in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, in Washington.

President Donald Trump has lost his bid in the Washington, D.C. federal appeals court to shield his financial records from Congress. The firm has provided accounting services to Trump. Efforts to obtain Trump tax returns through the courts continue in various jurisdictions.

Trump could appeal to the supreme court.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House committee that is seeking the records, called for prompt compliance. A ruling in the president's favor in this case would have been "a very significant change in the balance of power, because it would represent a significant narrowing of congressional subpoena power", said David Sklansky, a law professor at Stanford University.

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The House Oversight Committee had subpoenaed Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, for the documents, but the president's legal team argued that their investigation served no legislative goal.

The administrative stay will only be in place while the court reviews the case, and it's unclear how that will resolve.

Tatel was appointed by President Bill Clinton.

Eric Colombus, who served in the Justice Department under President Barack Obama, warned Rao's lonely dissent means "Dems shouldn't pop corks just yet".

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The decision by the three-judge panel - with Democratic appointees, Tatel and Patricia Millett in the majority and one judge Trump named, Neomi Rao, dissenting - isn't the last word on the subject.

"The Constitution and our historical practice draw a consistent line between the legislative and judicial powers of Congress".

"A congressional committee, as committees have done repeatedly over the past two centuries, issued an investigative subpoena, and the target of that subpoena, questioning the committee's legislative objective, has asked a court to invalidate it", the majority opinion states. Trump immediately appealed. Oral arguments were scheduled for 23 October.

The president is also embroiled in lawsuits with the House Ways and Means Committee, which is trying to get six years of Trump tax records from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and has the standing right to request similar information from the state of NY. In New York, Trump sued to prevent Deutsche Bank and Capital One from complying with House subpoenas for banking and financial records. A federal judge in Manhattan ordered Mazars to comply with the subpoena, but Trump has appealed. Trump argued that Congress's request had no legitimate legislative objective and should be rejected. His lawyers have argued that congressional investigations are valid only if there is legislation that might result from them.

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Federal Appeals Court Rejects Trump's Appeal of Subpoena for His Tax Returns