A federal judge ruled in a brutal opinion that Trump cannot block his accounting firm from complying with a federal subpoena.
A federal judge on Monday excoriated Trump, ruling in a 41-page opinion that Congress has a legitimate reason to conduct oversight of Trump's finances and that Trump cannot order his accounting firm to ignore a congressional subpoena for his financial records.
The ruling comes after Democrats sued Trump for ordering his accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP, not to comply with a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee for Trump's financial records, including 10 years' worth of audits that could have shown potential bank and loan fraud.
"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," U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta wrote.
Mehta went on to say that there is even legitimate evidence for Congress to open these probes, including evidence that Trump committed financial crimes before he became president.
"It is undisputed that the President did not initially identify as liabilities on his public disclosure forms the payments that Michael Cohen made to alleged mistresses during the presidential campaign," Mehta wrote, referring to the hush money payments to porn stars Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal that earned Trump the dubious title as "Individual 1" in Michael Cohen's indictment.
"Furthermore, Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations arising from those payments. These events, when combined with Cohen’s testimony and the financial statements he supplied, make it reasonable for the Oversight Committee to believe that the records sought from Mazars might reveal other financial transgressions or improprieties," Mehta continued.
The ruling is a major win for Democrats, who have been fighting Trump's numerous attempts to obstruct congressional oversight in order to shield himself from scrutiny of his finances and other possible crimes.
Trump is likely to appeal the ruling.
However the fact that one federal judge so forcefully ruled against him is a promising first sign for Democrats, who are carrying out their constitutional duty of providing oversight of the Executive Branch.
So, the legal battle over Trump's congressional stonewalling is now: Democrats 1, Trump 0.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.