A US appeals court on Friday backed a House of Representatives request for President Donald Trump's financial records including tax documents, rejecting an appeal by the president to block his accounting firm from handing over any information.
The 2-1 ruling of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is the latest blow to Mr. Trump as he tries to battle a zealous impeachment probe.
Trump, Wilson said, will "appeal until the last dog dies" and "if he loses at supreme court he will defy the order, because he is lawless and [attorney general William] Barr will back him up". The President has lost all of his challenges so far that have been decided at the trial court level to stop House subpoenas.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals put the subpoena on hold after Trump's attorneys filed an emergency appeal. A judge ruled against him and Trump appealed.
'The most important question is not whether Congress has put forth some legitimate legislative goal, but rather whether Congress is investigating suspicions of criminality or allegations that the President violated a law, ' Rao wrote, declaring that the House of Representatives 'may not use the legislative power to circumvent the protections and accountability that accompany the impeachment power'.
'The fact that the subpoena in this case seeks information that concerns the President of the United States adds a twist, but not a surprising one, ' he added.
Expect to hear quite a bit about the partisan split in this ruling, especially when it comes to confirming later appointments by Trump to appellate courts.
"We detect no inherent constitutional flaw in laws requiring presidents to publicly disclose certain financial information", the opinion states.
President Donald Trump arrives at the White House in Washington, on October 4, 2019.
The House panel subpoenaed records from Mazars in April, including documents from 2011 to 2018 in its investigation into Trump's reporting of his finances and potential conflicts of interest. The other judges are Patricia Millett, appointed by President Barack Obama, and David Tatel, appointed by President Bill Clinton.
Rao, in her dissent, criticized the majority for breaking new ground in upholding the subpoena as part of Congress's legislative power. The president's lawyers will undoubtedly fight the ruling, either before the full appeals court or by going directly to the Supreme Court.
In any event, to keep the president's tax returns hidden, Trump and his lawyers are running out of options. Although acknowledging that the Committee is pursuing a "valid legislative inquiry", the dissent insists that the Mazars subpoena is nonetheless invalid because it "seeks to investigate individual suspicions of criminality against the President", an inquiry that "may be pursued only through impeachment".
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