WASHINGTON — A federal district judge has told the accounting firm Mazars it will need to turn over Donald Trump’s accounting records from before he was President to the Democratic-controlled House Oversight Committee.
In a 41-page opinion, Judge Amit Mehta of the DC District Court rejected Trump’s attempt to block the committee’s subpoena, asserting that Congress is well within its authority to investigate the President.
Mehta’s opinion will now likely become fodder for other judges to consider as Trump and his Cabinet try to hold off Congress from getting his business records, such as through the IRS, banks and in other court fights.
Congress specifically can probe the President for conflicts of interest and ethical questions, Mehta wrote.
“History has shown that congressionally-exposed criminal conduct by the President or a high-ranking Executive Branch official can lead to legislation,” Mehta wrote, citing the Watergate investigation by the Senate.
“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,” he added.
Mazars has seven days until it will have to comply with the subpoena, Mehta said in his opinion Monday, but the judge refused to halt the subpoena after that. Another court would have to do so. Trump’s team has not yet appealed the ruling.
“The court is well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the President of the United States. But on the question of whether to grant a stay pending appeal, the President is subject to the same legal standard as any other litigant that does not prevail,” Mehta wrote.