WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump sued House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings and Trump’s longtime accounting firm on Monday, in an effort to block the release of the president’s financial records.
Trump, and his various companies, including The Trump Organization, filed the federal lawsuit in response to a subpoena issued by Cummings (D-Md.) last week seeking 10 years worth of Trump’s business records from his longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA.
In court filings, Trump accuses congressional Democrats of declaring an “all-out political war” since gaining control of the U.S. House, and claims “Subpoenas are their weapon of choice.”
“Democrats are using their new control of congressional committees to investigate every aspect of President Trump’s personal finances, businesses, and even his family,” the court filing claims. “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.”
Cummings subpoenaed Mazars last week after the accounting firm refused an earlier request from the House Oversight Committee seeking Trump’s business records as part of an expansive investigation into the president’s business and political dealings.
Cummings sought the documents after Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, testified before lawmakers earlier this year that Trump inflated his net worth to secure bank loans and to receive lower insurance premiums.
Cummings, in a memo to House Oversight Committee members last week that outlined his reasons for pursuing a subpoena, said Cohen’s testimony and other “corroborating documents,” raised “grave questions about whether the President has been accurate in his financial reporting."
On Monday, Cummings responded to Trump’s lawsuit in a statement that said the president’s legal filing “reads more like political talking points than a reasoned legal brief.”
“There is simply no valid legal basis to interfere with this duly authorized subpoena from Congress,” Cummings said.
The president, in a 14-page court filing, argues “Cummings’ subpoena of Mazars lacks a legitimate legislative purpose,” and claims the goal of the subpoena is to expose Trump’s financial information “with the hope that it will turn up something that Democrats can use as a political tool against the President now and in the 2020 election.”
The lawsuit also takes aim at Cohen’s credibility, calling him a “felon” and “convicted liar” and noting that when he testified in front of the House Oversight Committee in February, he had already pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 2017 about Trump’s business dealings.
Trump contends in the court filings that Mazars USA must abide by the American Institute of CPAs' code of professional conduct, citing from a part of the code that directs CPAs against “disclos[ing] any confidential client information without the specific consent of the client.” The lawsuit does not cite a part of the code that indicates CPAs can release information “to comply with a validly issued and enforceable subpoena.”
“Now that the subpoena has issued, Mazars faces an unfair choice: ignore the subpoena and risk contempt of Congress, or comply with the subpoena and risk liability to Plaintiffs if the subpoena is invalid or unenforceable,” states the lawsuit.
Mazars did not immediately respond to a request for comment.