As the Democrats controlling the House of Representatives grow more comfortable with their power to investigate, President Trump is leaning on the same tactic he favored for decades as Shady Real Estate Developer Trump: filing lawsuits. The latest came Monday, when Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and the Trump Organization sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One in an effort to prevent the two banks from complying with subpoenas filed by multiple congressional committees.
“This case involves congressional subpoenas that have no legitimate or lawful purpose,” the suit begins. “The subpoenas were issued to harass President Donald J. Trump, to rummage through every aspect of his personal finances, his businesses and the private information of the president and his family, and to ferret about for any material that might be used to cause him political damage. No grounds exist to establish any purpose other than a political one.”
— David Enrich (@davidenrich) April 30, 2019
Deutsche Bank has played an overlarge role in the president financial history. After Trump endured multiple bankruptcies, it was the only bank that was willing to lend to to the floundering developer, leading to a fruitful relationship revolving around real estate and golf course projects the Trump Organization undertook over the course of the past 20 years. When Trump took office in 2017, he owed the bank $364 million. On April 15th, the House Intelligence and Finance Committees subpoenaed the bank, as well as several others, for Trump financial records. “The potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern,” Finance Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) said at the time.
The lawsuit against Deutsche Bank and Capital One comes a week after Trump and the Trump Organization sued House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-NY) to prevent him from obtaining some of the president’s financial records from the accounting firm Mazers USA. Similar to the suit filed Monday, the litigation brought against Cummings alleged that his subpoena was not legitimate, and that Democrats have “declared all-out political war against President Donald J. Trump.”
The lawsuits are only part of Trump and his administration’s gloves-off fight to obstruct Congress from conducting its duty to provide oversight. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has already missed two deadlines to provide the House Ways and Means Committee with Trump’s tax returns, which the IRS is required to do by law now that a request has been submitted. The White House has also tried to stonewall congressional attempts to obtain testimony from former White House Counsel Don McGhan and current presidential adviser Stephen Miller. The strategy seems to be to push as much to the courts as possible in the hopes of delaying determinations past the 2020 election, or that Trump-packed Supreme Court will ultimately rule in the president’s favor.
Democrats are, uhh, frustrated.
On Monday, the Washington Post reported that lawmakers are privately starting to wonder whether they should pressure House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to take the prospect of impeachment a little more seriously. Though a growing number of Democrats — including presidential candidates like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) — have called for impeachment proceedings to begin following the release of the redacted Mueller report, Pelosi hasn’t really budged. Though she has acknowledged it could be a possibility in the future, she said last week on a conference call with congressional Democrats that she’s “not struggling with this decision” to hold off until Congress can finish pursuing its investigations.
The problem now is that the White House is doing all it can to prevent Congress from investigating. One Democrat who said he plans to talk to Pelosi is Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN). “Trump’s conduct is such that it will force people to consider impeachment, no matter how politically difficult,” he told the Post. “His conduct is so opprobrious that it’s hard for people to eventually not see that he’s trampled on the Constitution.”
Joe Biden seems to agree. “If in fact they block the investigation, they have no alternative but to go to the only other constitutional resort they have, [which] is impeachment,” he said Tuesday on Good Morning America.
Joe Biden tells @GMA Congress is investigating elements "left undone" by special counsel Mueller.
"If in fact they block the investigation, they have no alternative but to go to the only other constitutional resort they have, [which] is impeachment." https://t.co/YS6D0nsVmt pic.twitter.com/KUqWzPHZ7v
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) April 30, 2019
But the real power to pressure Pelosi lies in the hands of the six committee heads. Though Cummings and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) have entertained the idea, they, too, have stopped short of calling for impeachment proceedings to begin. “It certainly builds a case that the administration and the president is engaged in wholesale obstruction of Congress,” Nadler told the Post, adding that Trump is “trying to make the presidency into a monarchy,” that it’s “absolutely unacceptable” and that “we’ll take whatever action we have to do to deal with it.” OK.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Finance Committee Chairwoman Waters are also fed up, especially now that the White House is suing to prevent Deutsche Bank and Capital One from honoring their subpoenas. “As a private businessman, Trump routinely used his well-known litigiousness and the threat of lawsuits to intimidate others, but he will find that Congress will not be deterred from carrying out its constitutional responsibilities,” they wrote in a joint statement. “This lawsuit is not designed to succeed; it is only designed to put off meaningful accountability as long as possible.”
Though Schiff has been hot and cold when it comes to the prospect of impeaching the president, Waters is the only House committee chairperson to have called for proceedings to begin. She began doing so all the way back in 2017, leading Trump to cast her as one of the principal liberal boogeymen alongside Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. She hasn’t been discouraged. “We’re going to have to do it, we’re going to have to impeach,” she reiterated last week on MSNBC. “I just wish it was sooner than later.”