Ruling paves way for banks to give Trump business records to Congress

NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organization on Wednesday lost their bid to block Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp from providing financial records to Democratic lawmakers investigating Trump’s businesses.
In a decision read from the bench after hearing arguments, US District Judge Edgardo Ramos in New York said Congress has the legal authority to demand the records, clearing the way for the banks to comply with subpoenas issued to them by two US House of Representatives committees last month.
The committees have agreed not to enforce the subpoenas for seven days, the judge said. It was the second time in three days that a judge had ruled against the Republican president in his fight with Democrats and Trump’s lawyers were expected to appeal both decisions.
Ramos said he would not suspend his decision pending appeal. Some Democratic lawmakers welcomed the decision.
“So far, I think the president would be wise to come to the realisation that our legitimate areas of inquiry are going to be supported by the courts,” Representative Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat and member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in an interview.
Representative Brad Sherman, a Democratic member of the financial services committee, was more cautious, telling Reuters in an interview that he expected the decision would be appealed.
Asked if lawmakers should be satisfied that they will get the information they seek, Sherman said, “I’ll believe it when I see it out of the US Supreme Court.”
Deutsche Bank said it would abide by the court’s decision. Trump, who is seeking re-election next year, has aggressively sought to defy congressional oversight of his administration since Democrats took control of the House in January.
Ramos said that the committees had the power to issue the subpoenas under Congress’ “broad” power to conduct investigations to further legislation. He also rejected Trump’s argument that they were barred by a federal financial privacy law, the Right to Financial Privacy Act, saying the law does not apply to congressional investigations.
Trump said last month that the administration was “fighting all the subpoenas” issued by the House, hardening his position after the release of a redacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller on how Russia interfered in the 2016 US election to help Trump and on the president’s attempts to impede the investigation.
Some parts of the subpoenas have been included in court filings. The subpoena on Deutsche Bank seeks extensive records of accounts, transactions and investments linked to Trump, his three oldest children, their immediate family members and several Trump Organization entities, as well as records of ties they might have to foreign entities.
Deutsche Bank has long been a principal lender for Trump’s real estate business and a 2017 disclosure form showed that Trump had at least $130 million of liabilities to the bank.
— Reuters