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Amit Mehta, federal judge, rules against Trump in subpoena dispute

Stephen Dinan The Washington TimesMay 20, 2019

A federal judge ruled Monday that one of President Trump’s accounting firms must comply with a congressional subpoena for some of his personal financial documents, dealing a major blow to his claims that Congress’s investigations of him are illegal.

Just Amit P. Mehta said the House Oversight Committee gave valid reasons for wanting the documents, and Mr. Trump’s claims that the investigation is illegitimate are not convincing.

“According to the Oversight Committee, it believes that the requested records will aid its consideration of strengthening ethics and disclosure laws, as well as amending the penalties for violating such laws. The committee also says that the records will assist in monitoring the president’s compliance with the Foreign Emoluments Clauses. These are facially valid legislative purposes, and it is not for the court to question whether the committee’s actions are truly motivated by political considerations,” Judge Mehta wrote in the 41-page ruling.

Mr. Trump called the ruling “crazy,” and tried to minimize the decision, citing Judge Mehta’s history as an “Obama-appointed judge.”

“We’ll appeal it,” he told reporters.

The decision comes at the beginning of what’s expected to be a long legal slog between House Democrats and Mr. Trump and the early victory is encouraging for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her team.

The Trump administration has balked at a number of subpoenas and document demands, on everything from the president’s tax returns to financial records, that House Democrats’ investigations are more about embarrassing the president than an attempt to engage in legitimate oversight.

Judge Mehta’s ruling is a serious blow to that defense.

He said a century of previous cases shows that it’s not up to the courts to peer too closely behind what Congress is doing. Instead, judges must assume Capitol Hill is acting in good faith in carrying out its duties.

“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,” he wrote.

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