Rule of Law

2nd Circ. Flags SG For Comment On Trump Bank Subpoenas

The Second Circuit asked U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco on Wednesday if he would like to weigh in on President Donald Trump’s attempts to block congressional subpoenas seeking his financial records.

The request comes on the same day that the Constitutional Accountability Center, a progressive think tank, asked the federal appellate court to support the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees’ effort to make Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp. hand over documents related to the Trumps’ finances.

While Trump has sued to block the subpoenas, claiming they are coming from political adversaries who want to dig up dirt on him via “overbroad” requests, the CAC said in its amicus brief that the subpoenas are legitimate and filed pursuant to Congress’ broad investigatory authority.

“[Trump’s] arguments to the contrary are at odds with decades of Supreme Court precedent and would, if accepted, significantly cabin the scope of Congress’s authority to investigate,” the CAC claims.

The Second Circuit’s concise letter to the solicitor general asks that any input be filed by Aug. 19, days before one of its appellate panels hears the case Trump first brought in New York federal court to block the release of records that would provide the legislative committees with insight into his real estate dealings.

In May, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos rejected Trump’s bid for an injunction halting the two banks’ compliance with the subpoenas, citing U.S. Supreme Court precedent such as the 1927 McGrain v. Daugherty decision, which calls Congress’ power of investigation “essential and appropriate.”

Trump, his family members and his companies brought their case to the Second Circuit, arguing that the records are being sought for illegitimate, political purposes that aren’t tied to any legislative purposes.

The president had made similar arguments in the lower court, but lawyers for the congressional committees, citing high court rulings and their constitutional powers, countered that the information is necessary for them to investigate “serious and urgent questions concerning the safety of banking practices, money laundering in the financial sector, foreign influence in the U.S. political process, and the threat of foreign financial leverage, including over the president.”

The CAC, which describes itself as a public interest law firm “dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of our Constitution’s text, history and values,” echoed the congressional committees’ arguments in stating Wednesday that the subpoenas’ “legislative basis is plain.”

“The committees had good reason to believe that information about the president’s businesses may offer illuminating information that will guide its consideration of remedial legislation on all these issues,” the think tank said.

Counsel for Trump’s family and holdings, the committees and the CAC did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump, his family and his holdings are represented by Patrick Strawbridge, William Consovoy and Cameron T. Norris of Consovoy McCarthy Park PLLC and Marc Mukasey of Mukasey Frenchman & Sklaroff LLP.

The House committees are represented by Douglas Letter and Todd B. Tatelman of the Office of General Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives.

The CAC is represented by its own Elizabeth B. Wydra, Brianne J. Gorod, Brian R. Frazelle and Ashwin P. Phatak.

The case is Trump et al. v. Deutsche Bank AG et al., case number 19-1540, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.