Trump, House Democrats square off in U.S. court over Deutsche Bank documents




  • In US
  • 2019-05-22 11:26:39Z
  • By By Brendan Pierson
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump speaks at the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride event in the East Room of the White House in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Trump speaks at the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride event in the East Room of the White House in Washington  

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lawyers for U.S. President Donald Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organization will demand in court on Wednesday that a judge stop Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp from providing financial records to Democratic lawmakers investigating Trump's businesses.

Republican Trump, who is seeking re-election next year, has aggressively sought to defy congressional oversight of his administration since Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January.

Trump said last month that the administration was "fighting all the subpoenas" issued by the House, hardening his position after the release of a redacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller on how Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election to help Trump and the president's attempts to impede the investigation.

The contents of the subpoenas have not been made public. Wednesday's hearing in federal court in Manhattan is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (1630 GMT).

Deutsche Bank has long been a principal lender for Trump's real estate business and a 2017 disclosure form showed that Trump had at least $130 million of liabilities to the bank.

In March, before issuing a subpoena, Democratic lawmakers asked Capital One for documents concerning potential conflicts of interest tied to Trump's Washington hotel and other business interests since he became president in January 2017.

Deutsche Bank and Capital One said in court filings on May 10 they are not taking a position on whether the subpoenas should be blocked.

Trump, his adult children, Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka, and the Trump Organization are seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent Deutsche Bank complying with subpoenas from the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, and Capital One from complying with a subpoena from the Financial Services Committee.

In a lawsuit filed on April 29, lawyers for Trump, his children and the Trump Organization argued that the subpoenas were too broad, and that Democrats are hoping they will "stumble upon something" that could be used for political attacks on the president.

"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," the complaint said.

The banks are the only defendants in the case, but the House committees have intervened to oppose Trump's effort to block the subpoenas.

"We remain committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations and will abide by a court order regarding such investigations," Deutsche Bank said in a statement ahead of the hearing.

Capital One declined comment.

Representative Maxine Waters, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, told reporters after the lawsuit was filed that Trump had "cast a gauntlet." "We will fight him," she said.

Michael Stern, who served as senior House counsel from 1996 to 2004, said in an interview on Tuesday that Trump and the other plaintiffs faced an uphill battle. He said the judge was unlikely to look into the committee's motives in issuing a subpoena "as long as it might produce some information that's relevant to legislation."

On Monday, a federal judge in Washington ruled against the president in a similar case, finding that Trump's accounting firm, Mazars LLP, must comply with a congressional subpoena for Trump's financial records.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta found that Congress was "not engaged in a fishing expedition for the President's financial records when it subpoenaed Mazars and said that documents obtained might assist Congress in passing laws and performing other core functions.

Trump called Mehta's decision "crazy" and "totally the wrong decision by obviously an Obama-appointed judge," referring to Trump's Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama. U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos, who was also appointed by Obama, is overseeing the New York case.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Grant McCool)

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