Banks Stay Mum on Trump Tax Returns in Open Court

MANHATTAN (CN) – The Second Circuit pressed lawyers for Deutsche Bank and Capital One to no avail Friday about whether the banks have tax returns sought by Congress in a probe of President Donald Trump’s personal finances.

“That is unfortunately a question we are unable to address,” Raphael Prober, an attorney for Deutsche Bank with the firm Akin Gump, told the federal appeals court this afternoon.

The towers of the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, on Feb. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, file)

The same query drew even less from Capital One attorney James Murphy: “I would prefer not to,” the Murphy & McGonagle lawyer replied.

Though he declined to make counsel answer in open court, U.S. Circuit Judge Peter Hall said the question is not going anywhere. The lawyers have two days to provide sealed letters indicating whether each bank has tax returns responsive to the subpoenas they have received from the House Committee on Financial Services and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The financial services committee asked the banks for financial records on Trump, his family and seven entities associated with them as part of an investigation into possible money laundering and funneling in the United States of Russian oligarchs’ money through foreign entities.

Deutsche has been identified as one of the few financial lending institutions willing to do business with Trump’s real estate empire after his casino bankruptcies in the 1990s.

Trump fired back in April by filing suit in the Southern District of New York, calling the subpoenas of Deutsche Bank and Capital One illegitimate, unlawful, “equally intrusive and overbroad.”

When U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos refused Trump an injunction the following month, he ruled from the bench that the subpoenas were “all in service of facially legitimate investigative purposes.”

Following appellate arguments on that decision today where counsel for Trump and the House committee had more than double their allotted time for oral arguments, the Second Circuit reserved decision. Patrick Strawbridge with the law firm Consovoy McCarthy Park represents Trump, and House general counsel Douglas Letter argued for the lawmakers.

Judge Hall presided over arguments with fellow George W. Bush appointee U.S. Circuit Judges Debra Ann Livingston, and Judge Jon Newman, a Jimmy Carter appointee.

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