The New York Times recently documented that between 1985 and 1994, Donald Trump’s businesses lost over $1 billion dollars. His reputation was in such tatters that banks refused to lend any more money to the so-called “king of debt.” The one exception was Deutsche Bank, which has loaned him more than $2 billion since 1998. It also happens to be the bank that has been accused of laundering Russian money and failed to report suspicious activity taking place in accounts belonging to both Trump and Kushner.
Those are some of the reasons why two House committees have subpoenaed Trump’s financial records at Deutsche Bank. The president and his children sued to stop the bank from turning their records over to the committee and on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled against their request for an injunction to stop the bank from complying.
The argument Trump’s lawyers made in this case is the same one they’ve used in all of their attempts to stonewall the investigations: that the subpoenas were “politically motivated and had no legitimate legislative purpose.” It didn’t fare well with Judge Ramos.
“The court concludes that the plaintiffs have not raised any serious questions,” Ramos said. He added that, “even if the questions were sufficiently serious, injunctive relief would be unwarranted.”…
The judge drew special attention to the question of timing during his ruling, saying that “any delay in the proceedings may result in irreparable harm to the Committees.”
He added that the law in the matter was “well-settled.” “Courts have long recognized a clear public interest in maximizing Congress’s power to investigate,” Ramos intoned.
I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect that a judge declaring that your arguments are not serious and that the law in the matter is “well-settled” would be akin to taking a sledge-hammer to your case. Judge Ramos went on to say that he was not providing injunctive relief because “he thought it was unlikely that Mr. Trump and his family would win in a trial.”
Trump has already submitted an appeal in the case concerning his accounting firm and will likely do so on this latest ruling. But Margaret Taylor notes that “the legal reasoning in Mehta’s opinion is not surprising and breaks no new ground, so it is difficult to see the appeals court reversing the decision.”
At this point, Trump’s lawyers are zero for two in the courts on the argument that congressional subpoenas are invalid because they encroach on executive authority and don’t serve a legislative purpose. But it isn’t just the losses that are important. These judges have firmly stated that congress has the constitutional authority to investigate the president, that arguments against that authority aren’t serious, and that case law on these issues in well-settled. If those rulings continue to hold, Attorney General Barr’s extremist views on executive power will take a major blow.