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A federal judge ruled against President Donald Trump’s massive resistance to congressional oversight on Monday, holding that the president’s accounting firm must turn over many of Trump’s financial records to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Just as significantly, Judge Amit Mehta denied Trump’s request for a stay while Mehta’s decision is on appeal. The practical result of this decision is that the House committee will be able to enforce its subpoena in seven days unless a higher court intervenes.
As Mehta explained, Trump’s arguments against the subpoena have no basis in law. While Mehta conceded that “there are limits on Congress’s investigative authority,” these limits “do not substantially constrain Congress.” Rather, “so long as Congress investigates on a subject matter on which ‘legislation could be had,’ Congress acts as contemplated by Article I of the Constitution.”
Among other things, the Oversight Committee explained that “the requested records will aid its consideration of strengthening ethics and disclosure laws, as well as amending the penalties for violating such laws.” That alone is enough to justify the subpoena in this case.
Additionally, Mehta wrote that Congress also has an “informing function” which, as the Supreme Court explained in a 1957 opinion, permits “Congress to inquire into and publicize corruption, maladministration or inefficiency in agencies of the Government.”
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