Trump attorneys appeal accounting firm ruling

Firm ordered to hand over records to Congress

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN
Copyright 2019 CNN

President Donald Trump speaks in May of 2019.

(CNN) - President Donald Trump's attorneys are appealing a ruling by a federal judge ordering an accounting firm to comply with a congressional subpoena, acting fast on the one-week window until the firm turns over Trump's personal, business and charity financial records and communications to House Democrats.

The President's private legal team filed the notice of appeal at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals not even a day after losing their fight against the subpoena in the lower court. The deadline for the accounting firm, Mazars, to comply with the subpoena is next Monday.

The case was a quick and brutal loss for Trump among several efforts he has made in recent weeks to fend off Congress' pursuit of his financial history.

On Monday, federal Judge Amit Mehta ruled that that Congress was well within its power to subpoena his records, especially if it was investigating the President for ethical lapses. Mehta cited investigations of presidents throughout history that led to reforms by Congress.

"History has shown that congressionally-exposed criminal conduct by the President or a high-ranking Executive Branch official can lead to legislation," Mehta wrote.

Congressional lawyers had called Trump's legal challenge a delay tactic. Trump's team could delay the committee further if the appeals court steps in before Monday. Trump's team says he is appealing "all aspects" of Mehta's ruling, including the judge's decision to combine two stages of the court fight into one, and his refusal to pause the subpoena during appeals.

On Wednesday, Trump's legal team will raise several of the same legal arguments they made before Mehta to a different judge, in New York federal court. In the New York case, the President is fighting separate subpoenas other House committees sent to Deutsche Bank and Capital One bank for his and his companies' financial records and other documents. He also argues in that case that he and his children's bank records deserve privacy under federal law.

The Treasury Department has also vowed to fight a congressional subpoena to the IRS for Trump's tax returns.

The subpoena to Mazars, prompted by Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen's testimony to Congress about Trump's financial reporting, asks for the last seven years of records. That includes all annual statements, financial reports, independent audits, memos, notes and communications about Trump, his corporate trust account, the Trump Organization and some of its subsidiaries and the Trump Foundation.

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