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By Brent Kendall
A federal appeals court ruled House Democrats can enforce subpoenas to two banks seeking a broad range of President Trump's financial records, as well as those of his family and their businesses.
The ruling marked the third time in recent weeks that appellate judges have upheld subpoenas designed to open a window into Mr. Trump's financial dealings. Unlike his predecessors, the president has declined to release his tax returns, and he retains ownership of private companies that do business with the government. Those decisions have prompted high-stakes legal battles with congressional committees and New York prosecutors.
The mounting legal losses have left Mr. Trump with few options, and the Supreme Court now is likely the only body that stands between the president and several major financial disclosures to investigators.
The New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Tuesday rejected Mr. Trump's request to block subpoenas issued by two House committees earlier this year to Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp.
The subpoenas seek Trump bank and brokerage account records, records on loans and lines of credit and documents from bank employees that served the president and his family.
Mr. Trump has a longstanding relationship with Deutsche Bank. Since 1998, the bank has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Mr. Trump, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
The Intelligence Committee is investigating efforts by foreign entities to influence the U.S. political process, including whether foreign actors have financial leverage over the Trump family and its businesses. The Financial Services Committee is investigating bank-lending practices, including for Mr. Trump and entities tied to him.
The Second Circuit, in a divided ruling, said the committees had valid and lawful purposes for seeking documents, even though the information was about the Trump family's private financial and business affairs.
"The public interest in vindicating the committee's constitutional authority is clear and substantial," Judge Jon Newman wrote for the majority in a 106-page opinion that was joined by Judge Peter Hall.
The court did order some limited exceptions to the subpoenas in order to prevent disclosure of sensitive personal information about the Trump family.
The appeals court agreed to stay its ruling for a week in order to give Mr. Trump the opportunity to seek emergency intervention from the Supreme Court.
"We are evaluating our next options including seeking review at the Supreme Court," said Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow, reiterating the president's position that the subpoenas were invalid.
Mr. Trump's legal team has argued the subpoenas exceed the boundaries of congressional power, seeking purely private information that has no connection to possible legislation.
The committees, operating in the Democratic-controlled House, have argued that Mr. Trump is seeking to impede legitimate investigations into matters of national importance. Neither committee immediately responded to requests for comment on Tuesday's decision.
Judge Debra Ann Livingston objected to core parts of the ruling in a 59-page dissent, saying the subpoenas were "deeply troubling" in their breadth and raised separation-of-powers concerns. She would have required the House committees to provide additional support for why the Trump financial records were pertinent to the congressional investigations and should be disclosed.
The case is similar to one that has been litigated in Washington, D.C., in which the House Oversight Committee has sought records from Mr. Trump's longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP. That committee is examining White House ethics issues, including whether the president is improperly profiting from his office.
Lower courts ruled against the president, but the Supreme Court last month suspended that subpoena for now while the president mounts a high court appeal.
Also pending before the high court is a separate Trump appeal that seeks to challenge a subpoena Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. issued to Mazars for Trump financial records -- and tax returns -- as part of a criminal investigation. Mr. Vance is examining hush-money payments to two women who allege they had affairs with Mr. Trump.
The Supreme Court could announce in the next few weeks whether it will review those cases.
--Richard Rubin contributed to this article.
Write to Brent Kendall at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 03, 2019 17:40 ET (22:40 GMT)
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