US: Trump sues to block subpoena for financial records

The subpoena seeks eight years of documents from Trump and several of his businesses.

    Trump walks to board Air Force One as they travel to Florida for Easter weekend, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland [Al Drago/Reuters]
    Trump walks to board Air Force One as they travel to Florida for Easter weekend, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland [Al Drago/Reuters]

    US President Donald Trump and his business organisation sued the Democratic chairman of the House oversight committee on Monday to block a subpoena that seeks years of the president's financial records.

    The complaint, filed in federal court in Washington, said the subpoena from Representative Elijah Cummings "has no legitimate legislative purpose" and accuses Democrats of harassing Trump and wielding their new majority in Congress to try to stain the president's standing.

    "Instead of working with the president to pass bipartisan legislation that would actually benefit Americans, House Democrats are singularly obsessed with finding something they can use to damage the president politically," the lawsuit said.

    Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the subpoena earlier this month to Mazars USA, an accountant for the president and Trump Organization.

    The subpoena sought eight years of documents from Trump and several of his businesses, lawyers for Trump and the Trump Organization said in a court filing. 

    Cummings criticised the lawsuit on Monday, saying it was "baseless".

    "There is simply no valid legal basis to interfere with this duly authorised subpoena from Congress," Cummings, a Democrat, said in a statement. "This complaint reads more like political talking points than a reasoned legal brief, and it contains a litany of inaccurate information."

    He added, "The White House is engaged in unprecedented stonewalling on all fronts, and they have refused to produce a single document or witness to the Oversight Committee during this entire year."

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    'Partisan stunt'

    The lawsuit accuses Cummings of failing to consult with Republicans on the panel before issuing the subpoena and said he relied on the testimony of Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who told legislators in February that some of Trump's financial statements contained inaccuracies.

    Cohen pleaded guilty last year to lying to Congress in 2017 about a real estate deal involving Trump in Moscow.

    "The Cohen hearing was a partisan stunt, not a good-faith effort to obtain accurate testimony from a reliable witness," the lawsuit said.

    The complaint also said the subpoena seeks to investigate events that occurred before Trump was president and "has no legitimate legislative purpose".

    It added, "Democrats are using their new control of congressional committees to investigate every aspect of President Trump's personal finances, businesses, and even his family."

    Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's lawyers, said in a statement on Monday that "we will not allow presidential harassment to go unanswered".

    The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters news agency.

    SOURCE: News agencies