Appeals Court Rules House Democrats Can Get Trump Financial Records

A federal appeals court ruled on Nov. 13 that House Democrats can obtain President Donald Trumps financial records in a divided ruling.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a petition from Trumps lawyers to take the appeal to a vote by the full court, voting 8-3. Seven judges appointed by Democratic presidents and Judge Thomas Griffith, who was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, voted against Trump, while all three of those voting for the rehearing were Republican appointees.

Judge Gregory Katsas, a Trump appointee, said in a dissent that the ruling was nearly unprecedented.

“If the competing opinions here demonstrate anything, it is that this case presents exceptionally important questions regarding the separation of powers among Congress, the Executive Branch, and the Judiciary. For the second time in American history, an Article III court has undertaken to enforce a congressional subpoena for the records of a sitting president,” he wrote.

“The first time that was attempted, we took the case en banc, refused to enforce the subpoena, and stressed that the availability of impeachment foreclosed any conclusion that the records at issue were demonstrably critical to the responsible fulfillment of Congresss legislative prerogatives, even when Congress was investigating significant allegations of presidential misconduct.”

Katsas argued that the case posed a “threat to presidential autonomy and independence.”

Judge Neomi Rao, another Trump appointee, who replaced Brett Kavanaugh after he was confirmed to the Supreme Court, said in a dissent that the House Committee on Oversight and Reform “exceeded its constitutional authority when it issued a legislative subpoena investigating whether the president broke the law.”

Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 10, 2016. (Susan Walsh, File/AP Photo)
Neomi Rao, President Donald Trumps nominee to be U.S. circuit judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, testifies during a Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 5, 2019. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

“Investigations of impeachable offenses simply are not, and never have been, within the legislative power because impeachment is a separate judicial power vested in Congress. The panels analysis of these issues misapprehends the gravamen of the Committees subpoena and glosses over the difficult questions it raises for the separation of powers,” she wrote.

Judge Karen Henderson, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, joined both dissents.

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