Frances Ball 9 Aug 2019 10:42am

Justice Department backs Trump over Mazars dispute

The US Justice Department (DoJ) has sided with the president in his fight to prevent Congress from accessing eight years’ worth of financial records

The congressional House Oversight and Reform Committee has filed for a subpoena seeking Donald Trump’s records from Mazars USA, his accounting firm.

After a series of defeats for the president’s case in federal courts, the DoJ has now given him a rare break. In a brief to a federal appeals court, it wrote that lawmakers had not yet done enough to say why they need the information.

“The House’s lack of responsibility is sufficient reason for this court to declare the subpoena invalid”, the DoJ brief says.

The three-judge panel that will issue a verdict over Trump v Mazars had asked for the DoJ’s opinion on the case.

Two federal trial-level judges have already ruled against the president, but the subpoenas are on hold while the case is considered in the appeals court.

There are “significant constitutional constraints on Congress’s authority to regulate the president”, the DoJ wrote.

In the event that Trump loses this case, “the resolution’s carte-blanche approval of all future subpoenas directed toward the president would vastly increase the risk that this court will be confronted with difficult litigation about the validity of sweeping subpoenas purportedly justified by vague incantations of hypothetical legislative purposes”, the brief says.

The president’s lawyers have argued that the committee does not have a legitimate legislative purpose for accessing the financial records.