Banks can hand Trump financial records to House Democrats, court rules


Deutsche Bank AG DBKGn.DE and Capital One Financial Corp COF.N can hand over U.S. President Donald Trump's financial records to Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday. The lawyers for the congressional committees say they need access to documents from the banks to investigate possible "foreign influence in the US political process" and possible money laundering from overseas.

The decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals clears the way for the Democrat-controlled House to seek documents, including tax returns, for Trump and other third party individuals and entities.

"The Supreme Court has said that a high degree of deference should be accorded to actions taken exclusively by Congress", the court's opinion said.

The subpoenas ask Deutsche Bank and Capital One for financial information about the president, his wife, children and his businesses stretching back almost a decade.

"Without reviewing the requested return materials, the committee can not ensure that the IRS's audit process is functioning fairly and effectively, understand how provisions of the tax code are implicated by President Trump's returns, or exercise its legislative judgment to determine whether changes to the code may be warranted", it added. Capital One did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The ruling said Trump's case didn't meet the standard for a preliminary injunction, though they did establish that the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable injury if the financial records were released to Congress.

Two appeals courts have already ruled that he must make documents available, including information held by the accountancy firm Mazars USA, but decisions are pending in the Supreme Court.

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In Tuesday's decision, a 2-1 majority of the 2nd Circuit panel rejected Trump's argument that Congress did not have a valid objective for seeking his records, and that enforcing the subpoenas would compromise his and his family's privacy.

Trump's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, suggested the next step will be an appeal to the Supreme Court. Following a motion from media organizations including The Washington Post and CNN to have the name of the person or organization made public, Deutsche Bank told the appeals court it does not have Trump's tax returns.

Livingston said in a partial dissent that the case should be returned to a lower court for "creation of a record that is sufficient more closely to examine the serious questions that the plaintiffs have raised" and wants the parties to go "back to the negotiating table" to try to narrow the scope of the subpoenas.

Deutsche Bank has lent Trump's real estate company millions of dollars over the years.

In April, the House financial services and intelligence committees sought sweeping private banking records from the Trump family.