In a legal setback for the White House, a federal appeals court panel on Friday upheld a lower court ruling that President Donald Trump's accounting firm must provide the Congress with Mr. Trump's financial records, ruling that the President cannot block a subpoena from a House committee for such financial information.
"Contrary to the President’s arguments, the Committee possesses authority under both the House Rules and the Constitution to issue the subpoena, and Mazars must comply," the panel's 2-1 majority wrote, referring to Mr. Trump's accounting firm.
"Having considered the weighty interests at stake in this case, we conclude that the subpoena issued by the Committee to Mazars is valid and enforceable, the ruling states. "We affirm the district court’s judgment in favor of the Oversight Committee and against the Trump Plaintiffs."
In Congress, Democrats hailed the appeals court decision.
“Today’s ruling is a fundamental and resounding victory for Congressional oversight, our Constitutional system of checks and balances, and the rule of law,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who has repeatedly complained about how the Trump Administration has defied subpoenas.
MORE: The 2-1 ruling means Trump will lose control of his long-secret tax and other business papers at Mazars unless the full court reconsiders the decision or the Supreme Court blocks it. pic.twitter.com/Z8JsCWXKu2— Bloomberg Government (@BGOV) October 11, 2019
Trump has lost his battle to keep his tax records secret from the House. The DC Circuit, the nation's 2d highest court, just ruled the tax and financial records have to be turned over. Trump can try to appeal it to SCOTUS but will be hard. Decision herehttps://t.co/lwECiuKyHh— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) October 11, 2019
The House Oversight Committee issued the subpoena back in April; GOP lawmakers denounced the move at the time as 'an astonishing abuse' of Congressional authority.
But twice now, the courts have found otherwise.
In a scathing dissent, Judge Naomi Rao argued the only legitimate way for Congress to get access to the President's financial records would be through impeachment.
"The House may not use its legislative power to circumvent the protects and accountability that accompany the impeachment power," Rao wrote.
"Allowing the Committee to issue this subpoena for legislative purposes would turn Congress into a roving inquisition over a co-equal branch of government," added Rao, who was put on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals by Mr. Trump.
Responding to Rao's argument whittling Congress's power to investigate, Judge Tatel writes that it would "reorder the very structure of the Constitution" to give Congress the "Hobson's Choice of impeachment or nothing." pic.twitter.com/lpS9rmqUZ0— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) October 11, 2019
The two other judges involved in the decision were put on the appeals court by President Clinton (Tatel) and President Obama (Millett).
The President still has the option of appealing this decision - either to the full D.C. Court of Appeals, or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.