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Appeals Court Says Congress Entitled to Trump Bank Records

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as he meets with President Sergio Mattarella of Italy in the Oval Office of the White House October 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump is holding talks with President Mattarella on bilateral issues including “common security challenges and shared economic prosperity.” (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON  — The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled Congress is entitled to review President Donald Trump’s banking records as it investigates possible foreign influence in U.S. elections, violations of the emoluments clause and other issues.

The three-judge 2nd Circuit panel said Congress was acting within its constitutional authority when it opened investigations into whether Trump was “vulnerable to foreign exploitation.”

“The Committees’ interests in pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest than whatever public interest inheres in avoiding the risk of a Chief Executive’s distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions,” wrote U.S. Circuit Judge Jon Newman.

As a result, Newman wrote, Deutsche Bank and Capital One must comply with subpoenas from the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees seeking records related to his business ventures.

The decision by the panel upheld a May ruling by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos, who had said Trump and his company were unlikely to succeed in proving that the subpoenas were unlawful and unconstitutional.

The panel also rejected arguments that the subpoenas were meant merely to harass or embarrass the president, but did acknowledge Trump deserves some privacy protections, including protection from public disclosure of the document’s details.

As a result, it granted Trump a limited opportunity to object to the disclosure of specific documents.

Lawyers for the House committees, both of which are controlled by Democrats, have said in the past the House needs access to documents from the banks to investigate possible foreign influence in the U.S. political process and other issues, including possible money laundering.

Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer, said in a statement that the president’s legal team is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“We believe the subpoena is invalid as issued. In light of the Second Circuit decision, we are evaluating our next options,” he said.

If they do petition the Supreme Court to review the decision, it would only be the latest of a series of appeals the president has filed with the high court in recent weeks.

In mid-November, the president’s lawyers filed an emergency appeal with the justices over a ruling in a Washington, D.C., case involving a subpoena from a House committee for financial records held by Trump’s accountants.

They’ve also appealed a ruling in a case in which Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is seeking 8 years of Trump’s tax returns from his accountant as part of a wide-ranging criminal grand jury probe. 

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