Earlier today the Trump team lost its first round in court in the ongoing fight with various House committees over access to various documents.
At issue was a subpoena by the House Oversight Committee for Donald Trump’s financial records from his accounting firm.
The judge, Obama appointee Amit Mehta, ruled:
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, who also denied Trump’s request to stay his decision pending an appeal, said Congress was acting within its broad authority to investigate, rejecting arguments from Trump’s attorneys who said the panel’s probe, and subsequent document demands, served no legislative purpose.
“It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct—past or present—even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry,” Mehta wrote.
“Congress plainly views itself as having sweeping authority to investigate illegal conduct of a President, before and after taking office. This court is not prepared to roll back the tide of history,” he added.
The White House has lodged an appeal with the DC Circuit which means they will have to rule on this in very short order.
Just some additional data points.
This particular judge has, in the past, shown blatant hostility towards the Trump administration (see How The BuzzFeed Lawsuit Might Open Mueller’s Investigation To Public View).
Judge Mehta signalled his ruling last week when he announced he would make a decision without bothering to hear arguments.
It is rather difficult to see how the judge squares this with the Fourth Amendment. No one doubts that the Congress has the right to demand documents as part of an impeachment proceeding but demanding access to privileged documents in order to find potential grounds for impeachment isn’t the way things have historically been done in America.
There is about a 100% chance that this ends up at the Supreme Court. There is nearly that chance that Judge Mehta will be told that he needs more legal analysis than #OrangeManBad.
Get used to this. There are lots of fights with Congress going on and many of them will head to a judicial circuit stocked to the gills with Obamanauts who are still reeling in disbelief from November 2016.