MANHATTAN (CN) — The Second Circuit cleared the way Tuesday for two House committees to access financial records that President Donald Trump and his associates have stored in Deutsche Bank and Capital One.
Mere hours before lawmakers issued their report on the Trump impeachment inquiry, the New York-based federal appeals court decided the case 2-1 in a 106-page opinion.
“The public interest in vindicating the committees’ constitutional authority is clear and substantial,” U.S. Circuit Judge Jon Newman, a Carter appointee, wrote for the majority. “It is the interest of two congressional committees, functioning under the authority of a resolution of the House of Representatives authorizing the subpoenas at issue, to obtain information on enforcement of anti-money-laundering/counter-financing of terrorism laws, terrorist financing, the movement of illicit funds through the global financial system including the real estate market, the scope of the Russian government’s operations to influence the U.S. political process, and whether the lead plaintiff was vulnerable to foreign exploitation.”
Lead plaintiff is a reference to President Trump, whom the judges noted is facing scrutiny for foreign exploitation. The subpoenas also cover three of Trump’s children and seven of his corporate entities.
The House Committee on Financial Services and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have demanded Trump’s bank records in pursuit of expansive investigations of Russian interference in U.S. elections and the efficacy of anti-money laundering laws.
Representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat who chairs the Financial Services Committee, is quoted in the ruling about the stakes of this search.
“The movement of illicit funds throughout the global financial system raises numerous questions regarding the actors who are involved in these money laundering schemes and where the money is going,” Waters said.
Though the majority agreed that Trump is not entitled to an injunction, they granted a limited opportunity on remand to protect sensitive personal information.
U.S. Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston, another Bush appointee, dissented, suggesting the committees had overreached.
“Congress has no power to expose personal information for the sake of exposure, nor may it seek information to enforce laws or punish for their infraction — responsibilities which belong to the executive and judicial branches respectively, and not to it,” Livingston wrote.
U.S. Circuit Judge Peter Hall, an appointee of President George W. Bush, concurred with Newman. They said there was too big a risk in sending the case back to District Court, as Livingston proposed, to develop the record.
“A total remand would simply further delay production of documents in response to subpoenas that were issued seven months ago and would run directly counter to the Supreme Court’s instruction that motions to enjoin a congressional subpoena should ‘be given the most expeditious treatment by district courts because one branch of government is being asked to halt the functions of a coordinate branch,’” Newman wrote.
Attorneys for Trump and the House Committees did not immediately respond to a request for comment.