WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court on Friday narrowed the range of documents House Democrats are entitled to in their years-long investigation of Donald Trump's finances.
The decision from the federal appeals court in Washington almost certainly won't be the last word in the legal fight that began in 2019, when Trump was president and Democrats newly in charge of the House of Representatives subpoenaed a wealth of records from Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA.
A federal judge in Washington already had ruled that lawmakers were entitled to review a more limited set of records than they initially wanted.
The appellate panel narrowed the request even more. It held that the House Committee on Oversight and Reform should be given records of financial ties between foreign countries and Trump or any of his businesses for 2017-18. It also ordered Mazars to turn over documents between November 2016 and 2018 relating to the Trump company that held the lease granted by the federal government for the former Trump International Hotel located between the White House and the Capitol.
“We determine here that the Committee has shown the requisite need for some, but far from all, of the presidential information covered by its subpoena,” Judge Sri Srinivasan wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Judith Rogers. The third judge who heard arguments in the case is Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who dropped out of the case when President Joe Biden nominated her to the Supreme Court.
The committee first issued a subpoena in 2019, then renewed it in 2021.
Lower courts had first ruled broadly in favor of the committee, but the Supreme Court in 2020 ordered a new analysis.
In issuing its ruling Friday, the court raised the point of Trump's right to continue fighting the subpoena, noting that the question remained of whether Trump maintains executive privilege as a former president.
In addition, the Biden administration “has not opposed former President Trump’s efforts to challenge the Committee’s subpoena,” Srinivasan wrote, adding that the administration's last word in this case “was to argue that the subpoena must be invalidated” under the Supreme Court's analysis.
The committee’s hunt for records overlaps with other records that have already been released to investigators. In 2020, for instance, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in his demand for Trump’s tax records, though the ruling kept the documents out of the public eye. Vance’s office took possession of those records in February.
In that case, criminal charges have been brought against the Trump Organization and Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg. They are due back in court on Aug. 12, postponed from a scheduled July 12 appearance.