On Monday, Federal D.C. District Court Judge Amit J. Mehta, issued a 41-page ruling finding that Trump could not legally block documents from the accounting firm Mazars USA. The Mehta ruling directly followed the news that the Trump Administration had instructed former White House counsel, Donald McGahn, to ignore a Congressional Subpoena to testify about his personal and professional conversations with the President.
Trump’s lawyers in the Mazars case argued that House Oversight Committee’s demands for Trump’s records constituted an “overly broad” request and “served no legitimate legislative function.” Judge Mehta quickly dismissed this argument and produced a quick ruling, reflecting a further lack of persuasiveness from the defense. Finding in favor of Congress, Mehta wrote a blistering response to the arguments of the Trump team saying, “It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct-past or present-even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”
By Tuesday, Trump’s lawyers had already filed a two page notice to appeal specifically claiming they would be appealing “all aspects of this Court’s order and opinion from May 20, 2019.” This is not surprising given Trump’s very public statements that he intends to appeal every case all the way to the Supreme Court until he gets the ruling he wants.
In another signal of what we can expect, Judge Ramos also made a point to say from the bench that Trump and his team were “highly unlikely” to succeed in a lawsuit arguing that Congressional subpoenas seeking the Deutsche Bank and Capital One records were unlawful and unconstitutional.
On Wednesday, in the Southern District of New York, Judge Edgardo Ramos thwarted Trump’s attempt to keep his Deutsche Bank and Capital One records away from the House by denying a motion for injunctive relief. His ruling determined that both banks can turn over financial documents related to President Donald Trump and his businesses in response to subpoenas from House Democrats. Judge Ramos also disagreed with the Trump legal team’s strongest argument that the demand for the documents from the House “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.” Ramos concluded there is such a purpose in the request by the congressional committees, which are investigating alleged foreign influence in recent U.S. elections, and the subpoenas are “undeniably broad” but “clearly pertinent.”
The fact that Judge Ramos went to the effort of concluding that “the plaintiffs have not raised any serious questions” reflects that the Trump legal team is not on legal terra firma in this case, either. Reports from inside the courtroom also recorded Ramos from the bench as saying, “Courts have long recognized a clear public interest in maximizing Congress’s power to investigate…propriety of legislative motives is not a question left to the courts.” In another signal of what is yet to come legally, Judge Ramos also made a point to say that Trump and his team were “highly unlikely” to succeed in a lawsuit arguing that Congressional subpoenas seeking the Deutsche Bank and Capital One records were unlawful and unconstitutional.
A distantly related case also moves forward as a Manhattan grand jury just returned an indictment against former Trump Campaign Economic Advisor, Stephen Calk, yesterday. Calk, a Chicago bank chairman is accused of issuing $16 million dollars in high-risk loans to President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, to curry favor and obtain a senior position in the Trump Administration. Although the Calk case is not directly related to Trump’s current litigation, it is reflective of the types of people Trump keeps in his orbit as well as how the courts are continuing to rectify the behaviors of the unethical people that seem to surround him.
Despite all of Trump’s bluster claiming he will be successful in fighting these Congressional subpoenas in the courts, the current score sits at Congress-2, Trump-0.
The speed at which these cases are progressing reflects the lack of persuasiveness from Trump’s counsel on providing substantial arguments in defense of Trump’s refusal to follow congressional subpoenas. The Ramos decision will be appealed like the Mehta ruling, but both judges have now made it clear that Trump’s claims aren’t legitimate and shouldn’t fare well in any courtroom. Trump hasn’t been providing reasonable legal objections, rather he’s simply using the best arguments available to him to stop the House from getting critical information and to buy time. Despite all of Trump’s bluster claiming he will be successful in fighting these Congressional subpoenas in the courts, the current score sits at Congress-2, Trump-0.
Amee Vanderpool writes the “Shero and a Scholar” Newsletter and is an an attorney, contributor to Playboy Magazine, analyst for BBC radio and Director of The Inanna Project. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.