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Trump Loses Appeal on Deutsche Bank Subpoenas




A federal appeals court said Tuesday that Deutsche Bank must turn over detailed documents about President Trump’s finances to two congressional committees, a ruling that will most likely be appealed to the Supreme Court.

The decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York was the latest victory for House Democrats investigating Mr. Trump and his businesses. And it put extensive information about Mr. Trump’s personal and business finances — which the president has spent years fighting to keep secret — one step closer to becoming public.

Democratic-controlled House committees issued subpoenas to two banks — Deutsche Bank, long Mr. Trump’s biggest lender, and Capital One — this year for financial records related to the president, his companies and his family. Mr. Trump sued the banks to block them from complying.

The ruling by a three-judge panel comes at a perilous time for Mr. Trump, who is facing an unrelated impeachment inquiry in the House.

Mr. Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow said in a statement that “we are evaluating our next options including seeking review at the Supreme Court of the United States.” He called the congressional subpoenas “invalid as issued.”

Mr. Trump has seven days to seek a further delay from the Supreme Court before the banks must comply.

Mr. Trump, who broke with decades of tradition by refusing to release his tax returns during the 2016 campaign, has already turned to the Supreme Court in an effort to fend off other government investigations into his personal finances. Two other cases, involving the disclosure of his tax returns to the Manhattan district attorney and to a congressional committee, are awaiting action by the court.

But the requests for documents from Deutsche Bank are notable because of the breadth of financial information they could provide about Mr. Trump and his business dealings.

Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s main lender after a string of bankruptcies and loan defaults cost other banks hundreds of millions of dollars; over the past two decades, the German bank lent him and his companies a total of well over $2 billion. The bank’s files would most likely contain a rich trove of documents including details about how he made his money, who his partners have been, the terms of his extensive borrowings and other transactions.

The subpoenas, issued in April by the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees, sought nearly a decade’s worth of tax returns and other financial documents that the banks obtained from Mr. Trump, his family and his companies. The subpoenas also demanded information about any suspicious activities that Deutsche Bank detected in Mr. Trump’s accounts.


Investigators for the two committees are hoping the materials will shed light on any links Mr. Trump has had to foreign governments and whether he or his companies were involved in any illegal activity, such as money laundering for people overseas.

The committees have also said the information is important to their attempts to write legislation. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued that the subpoenas served no legitimate legislative purpose and were overly broad.

“This ruling ensures that a significant amount of the materials sought by our committees will continue to be produced,” said a statement by the Financial Services chairwoman and the Intelligence chairman, Representatives Maxine Waters and Adam B. Schiff, both of California.

The ruling by the appellate panel, with two judges appointed by President George W. Bush and one by President Jimmy Carter, contained a caveat: The lower court must consider whether and how the banks disclose a limited set of sensitive personal information that would have no bearing on the government investigations. Such information could include checks that were written by Mr. Trump or his companies to cover employees’ medical expenses.

But, the court ruled, the presumption should be in favor of handing over more documents, not fewer. “Many documents facially appearing to reflect normal business dealings will therefore warrant disclosure for examination and analysis by skilled investigators assisting the committees to determine the effectiveness of current regulation and the possible need for improved legislation,” the court wrote.

The ruling concluded: “The committees’ interests in pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest than whatever public interest inheres in avoiding the risk of a chief executive’s distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions.”

Deutsche Bank will abide by whatever decision is ultimately issued in the case, said Troy Gravitt, a bank spokesman.

Tuesday’s ruling was the latest this year by a federal court to uphold the broad powers of Congress to investigate the president.

In two similar cases, the president has asked the Supreme Court to overrule lower courts and to block attempts to review his finances. Last month, the Supreme Court issued a temporary stay related to a subpoena that the House Oversight and Reform Committee issued in April. Mr. Trump has also filed a petition seeking review of a request from prosecutors in Manhattan who are seeking information from his accounting firm, Mazars USA.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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