Democrats claim victory as Trump gets battered in court
President TrumpDonald John TrumpCitizenship and Immigration Services union blasts Trump’s pick to head agency Texas secretary of state resigns after botched voter purge Trump hits Biden for 1994 crime bill support MORE took a beating in federal court last week, losing a pair of lawsuits aimed at hindering House Democrats’ investigations into him and his administration.
The decisions indicated that Trump will ultimately lose the fights: Both judges in the subpoena cases issued their rulings swiftly and decisively, underscoring the weakness of Trump’s legal arguments.
The lawsuits were likely intended as Trump’s attempt to delay Congress from being able to obtain the documents, taking advantage of the slow pace of the court system while keeping an eye on getting the cases up to the Supreme Court.
But the court victories are providing Democrats with momentum as they accelerate their Trump investigations — and providing fodder for party leaders to argue impeachment proceedings aren’t necessary as they make legal headways.
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsSeven key allies for Pelosi on impeachment Democrats claim victory as Trump gets battered in court Trump goes scorched earth against impeachment talk MORE (D-Md.), whose subpoena for Trump’s financial records from the accounting firm Mazars was upheld in D.C. court, said that the judge had found Democrats’ arguments “a slam dunk.”
“I think the courts will look at this and say, ‘wait a minute … there is a role for the Congress, and their role is clear,’” Cummings told reporters this week.
D.C. Judge Amit Mehta, an Obama appointee, this week found that lawmakers can move forward with their subpoena for financial records from Trump’s accounting firm Mazars.
Just days later, New York Judge Edgardo Ramos, another Obama appointee, rejected Trump’s request to block similar congressional subpoenas for documents from Deutsche Bank and Capital One, two financial institutions that have had dealings with Trump.
The president isn’t calling it quits just yet: His attorneys have already filed appeals for both rulings.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to expedite the Mazars subpoena case, but it will still be months before the judges come to a ruling: They are set to hear oral arguments in the case in mid-July.
Meanwhile, a schedule has yet to be set in the second case on the Deutsche Bank and Capital One subpoenas.
Still, Cummings said he was encouraged that Trump’s lawyers were moving the case along.
“One of the things that we always worried about was whether it would take so long to get this thing through the court process that it just wouldn’t make any sense,” the Democratic chairman said.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump: Dems are getting nothing done in Congress Seven key allies for Pelosi on impeachment Democrats claim victory as Trump gets battered in court MORE (D-Calif.), who jointly issued the Deutsche Bank and Capital One subpoenas with House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersSeven key allies for Pelosi on impeachment Democrats claim victory as Trump gets battered in court Trump appeals order siding with House Democrats bank subpoenas MORE (D-Calif.), welcomed the rulings, saying that “speed is of the essence” in getting the documents.
He pointed to a New York Times report that Deutsche Bank staff had internally flagged suspicious activity from entities controlled by Trump and his son-in-law, White House aide Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerDemocrats claim victory as Trump gets battered in court National commission needed to monitor and combat anti-Semitism Trump pushing for GOP donor’s company to get border wall contract: report MORE, as further reason to continue their investigation.
“Recent reports that suspicious activity involving accounts linked to the president or his son-in-law went unreported to the Treasury Department only illustrate why it’s so important for us to do our work without delay or interference by the president or family members,” Schiff told reporters. “I’m very pleased with the court decision, upholding the rule of law and Congress’s ability to do its constitutional duty.”
Trump dismissed the Times over the report, calling it part of the “Fake News Media” that “keep writing phony stories.”
The pair of victories come as House Democrats across several committees have launched a myriad of investigations involving not only Trump himself, but also the president’s family, businesses and administration.
Mitchel Sollenberger, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, said that the court decisions so far could solidify Congress’s right to investigate, at a time when the Trump administration is trying to fend off the investigations as being political and without legislative purpose.
“Those investigations, they’re going to be strengthened because you’ve got two federal courts right now who are saying that Congress, their powers aren’t weakened because there’s no explicit legislative purpose,” Sollenberger said.
The court wins are also providing House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump: Dems are getting nothing done in Congress Seven key allies for Pelosi on impeachment Democrats claim victory as Trump gets battered in court MORE (D-Calif.) and other top Democrats with some cover as they look to fend off calls by progressive parts of the party to initiate impeachment proceedings as a way to advance the investigations.
Calls for impeachment rose after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a ‘do-over’ Graham: Mueller investigation a ‘political rectal exam’ MORE laid out instances of potential obstruction of justice by the Trump administration, while declining to determine whether there was enough evidence to pursue charges.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerSeven key allies for Pelosi on impeachment Democrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Trump asks if Nadler will look into Clinton’s ‘deleted and acid washed’ emails MORE (D-N.Y.) told MSNBC’s Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowDemocrats claim victory as Trump gets battered in court Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Nadler: Mueller wants to testify privately MORE on Thursday that he had urged Pelosi earlier this week to consider opening an impeachment inquiry into Trump in order to boost lawmakers’s chances of winning in court.
But he admitted this week’s legal victories have made that argument “much weaker.”
Morgan Chalfant and Olivia Beavers contributed.