- The Washington Times - Monday, April 22, 2019

Attorneys for President Trump and the Trump Organization on Monday moved to block a congressional subpoena that seeks financial information from Mazars USA, a longtime accounting firm for the company.

The lawsuit, which names House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, is the latest signal from Mr. Trump’s legal team that they plan to push back strongly against what one of his attorneys called “presidential harassment” from a newly empowered Democratic majority in the House.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, says Mr. Cummings “has ignored the constitutional limits on Congress‘ power to investigate” and says his subpoena of Mazars lacks a “legitimate legislative purpose.”

It says the subpoena also threatens to expose “confidential information,” and asks the court to declare Mr. Cummings‘ subpoena “invalid and unenforceable.”

“We will not allow congressional presidential harassment to go unanswered,” said Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s attorneys.

The lawsuit says Democrats are using their newfound majority on congressional committees in the House to investigate “every aspect” of Mr. Trump’s personal finances, businesses, and his family, and that House Democrats are “singularly obsessed” with finding politically damaging information on the president.

“The Democrat Party, with its newfound control of the U.S. House of Representatives, has declared all-out political war against President Donald J. Trump,” lawyers said in the lawsuit. “Subpoenas are their weapon of choice.”

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have also pushed back against House Democrats’ recent demands that Mr. Trump hand over six years’ worth of tax returns. Mr. Trump broke with decades of precedent by declining to release any returns during the 2016 presidential campaign, citing an ongoing audit.

Mr. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, had announced plans earlier this month to subpoena documents from the firm in order to corroborate testimony from Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime former lawyer and fixer, about the president’s financial information.

The congressman said Monday that the White House is engaged in “unprecedented stonewalling on all fronts” and that they haven’t produced a single document or witness to the oversight committee this year.

“The president has a long history of trying to use baseless lawsuits to attack his adversaries, but there is simply no valid legal basis to interfere with this duly authorized subpoena from Congress,” Mr. Cummings said. “This complaint reads more like political talking points than a reasoned legal brief, and it contains a litany of inaccurate information.”

In addition to Mr. Cummings and Mazars, Peter Kenny, chief investigative counsel for the oversight committee, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Listed plaintiffs include Mr. Trump, the Trump Organization, and other associated entities, including a revocable trust in Mr. Trump’s name.

The subpoena demands financial statements and supporting documents from Mazars for Mr. Trump, the Trump Organization, and other entities. The subpoena covered documents from 2011 to 2018.

In a memo to committee members announcing his intention to issue the subpoena, Mr. Cummings said financial statements Cohen gave to the committee in 2011, 2012, and 2013 raise “serious questions” about Mr. Trump’s representations of his financial condition.

Several of the statements Cohen provided were prepared by Mazars, Mr. Cummings said.

Cohen, who testified to the committee in February about his work for Mr. Trump, has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, among other crimes.

Last month, Mr. Cummings had asked Mazars for financial information dating back to 2009 for the Trump Organization and several other entities. A lawyer for the company responded by saying Mazars couldn’t voluntarily turn over the documents, prompting Mr. Cummings to issue the subpoena.

In a separate battle between Mr. Trump and congressional Democrats, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal has given the IRS a new April 23 deadline to turn over six years’ worth of Mr. Trump’s personal tax returns, as well as returns for some associated organizations, like one of his golf courses.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin sent a letter earlier this month saying he was going to miss Mr. Neal’s original April 10 deadline to turn over the returns, and questioned the legislative purpose behind the request.

An obscure law allows the chairmen of Congress’s tax writing committees to request private taxpayer information.

Mr. Neal, who says he wants the information to examine IRS practices on auditing presidential tax returns, said later in a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig that if the agency doesn’t reply by 5 p.m. on April 23, which is Tuesday, he’ll interpret it as a “denial” of his request.

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