President Donald Trump, members of the Trump family, and the Trump Corporation filed a second lawsuit over House Democrats’ subpoenas Monday, this time in an effort to stop Deutsche Bank and Capital One from turning over Trump financial documents to congressional investigators.
Last week, Trump and the Trump Corporation filed suit against House Democrats, demanding that a federal court halt Democrats’ flurry of subpoenas to White House officials and Trump Corporation associates and quash a subpoena directed at an accounting firm that handles Trump’s personal financials. The Trump family also filed a follow-up suit against the accounting firm in an effort to prevent them from complying with any subpoenas that escaped the court’s control.
Now, the Trump family is moving to stop a series of subpoenas, from the same House Committee, designed to seek information on how and why Deutsche Bank and Capital One continued extending the Trump Corporation lines of credit in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when other financial institutions had clearly blacklisted the company.
The New York Times reports that plaintiffs — Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and the family’s privately held corporation — “argue that the Democratic House committee leaders who issued the subpoenas engaged in a broad overreach.”
“This case involves congressional subpoenas that have no legitimate or lawful purpose,” the complaint reads. “The subpoenas were issued to harass President Donald J. Trump, to rummage through every aspect of his personal finances, his businesses and the private information of the president and his family, and to ferret about for any material that might be used to cause him political damage. No grounds exist to establish any purpose other than a political one.”
Democrats specifically want access to Trump’s Deutsche Bank accounts, because of a conspiracy theory that has persisted since Trump’s election: that Russian bigwigs used Deutsche Bank as a clearing house to fund Trump’s real estate investments, thus explaining why Deutsche Bank was able to lend Trump money even when other banks were backing off.
The Trump family’s argument in both suits are the same: particularly in light of the Mueller report that cleared the Trump 2016 presidential campaign of any collusion with Russian officials, there’s no real reason to demand the Trumps’ financial documents other than to embroil the White House in an ongoing defensive campaign.
In previous filings the Trumps are more clear, calling the Democrats’ objective a “declared all-out political war,” and subpoenas simply a “weapon of choice” in battle.
It’s not clear how the suit will shake out. Congress is given broad leeway to pull documents and issue subpoenas, but allowing the House Democrats access to decades of financial information that may only be marginally relevant to, say, a possible violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, sets a strange precedent.
There’s also the question of what Democrats really need. So far, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Elijah Cuimmings (D-MD) and others have sent at least 80 subpoenas to Trump affiliates, former White House aides, and “key witnesses” to what they believe is Trump malfeasance, and the Democrats promise dozens of investigations over the course of the next two years. At some point, the objective becomes far too broad.
Hearings on both suits are expected in the next few weeks.