OYEZ! Another day, another bullshit lawsuit from the great legal minds in Trumpland. Last week, the House Oversight Committee dropped subpoenas on Trump's longtime accountants at Mazars, USA, instructing the company to hand over all Trump's financials ASAP. Mazars had refused to comply with a voluntary request, insisting on a "friendly" subpoena for CYA purposes. And even though ranking member Jim Jordan wrote a memo telling the pencil pushers to just ignore that mean black dude with the gavel, and then Trump's esteemed counsel lobbed a nastygram putting Mazars "on notice" that the president was going to sue them if they complied, Mazars seems inclined to cough it up. So now Trump's lawyers Stefan Passantino and William Consovoy are suing the Oversight Committee and Mazars, which is exactly how shit goes down when you have nothing at all to hide!

Not to get hypertechnical, but this lawsuit is horse puckey.

1. The Democrat Party, with its newfound control of the U.S. House of Representatives, has declared all-out political war against President Donald J. Trump. Subpoenas are their weapon of choice.

2. Democrats are using their new control of congressional committees to investigate every aspect of President Trump's personal finances, businesses, and even his family. Instead of working with the President to pass bipartisan legislation that would actually benefit Americans, House Democrats are singularly obsessed with finding something they can use to damage the President politically. They have issued more than 100 subpoenas and requests to anyone with even the most tangential connection to the President.

Yeah, yeah. Save it for Hannity, assholes.

The crux of Trump's "legal" argument is that the Oversight Committee is only allowed to oversee stuff they might legislate and thus their subpoena is ILLEGAL. Also, too, if Donald Trump committed loan fraud or tax fuckery, it happened before he took office, so it doesn't count. Which is extremely, HAHAHA, FUCK YOU, since we remember the hearings on the Clinton Foundation -- not to mention a certain land deal in Arkansas that somehow morphed into the Starr Report on the state of a young intern's dress -- thankyouverymuch.

The whole lawsuit is offensively stupid, but this section here takes the cake:

Plaintiffs bring this suit to challenge the validity and enforceability of Chairman Cummings' subpoena. Now that the subpoena has issued, Mazars faces an unfair choice: ignore the subpoena and risk contempt of Congress, or comply with the subpoena and risk liability to Plaintiffs if the subpoena is invalid or unenforceable. To resolve these conflicting commands, the D.C. Circuit has instructed third-party accountants like Mazars to hold onto the subpoenaed materials until the dispute over the subpoena's validity is finally resolved in court: "[AICPA] Rule 301 … explains that it 'shall not be construed ... to affect in any way the member's obligation to comply with a validly issued and enforceable subpoena or summons.' But [the client] challenges the enforceability of a subpoena …. Thus [the accountant] c[an] refuse to produce the documents, thereby allowing [the client to litigate the subpoena], without violating its obligation to comply with enforceable subpoenas." United States v. Deloitte LLP, 610 F.3d 129, 142 (D.C. Cir. 2010). Congress thus cannot take any action against Mazars until this litigation is finally resolved.


First of all, Mazars does not "risk liability" to Trump if it complies with a facially valid Congressional subpoena, even if the subpoena is later held by a court to be invalid. (Which it won't be.) That's a misstatement of both the law and the very American Institute of CPA's (AICPA) Code of Professional Conduct that Passentino and Consovoy cite in their complaint.

The member's disclosure of confidential client information in compliance with a validly issued and enforceable subpoena or summons would not violate the "Confidential Client Information Rule" [1.700.001]. .02 When complying with such subpoena or summons, the member is not required to notify the client that its records have been subpoenaed or that a summons related to the client's records has been issued. The member may also wish to consult with legal counsel to determine the validity and enforceability of the subpoena or summons and the specific client information required to be provided. The member may also wish to consult with his or her state board of accountancy.

The Accountant's Creed says five times that subpoenas override an accountant's obligation of confidentiality and that she must comply. This shit ain't hard!

Second of all, the DC Circuit has not "instructed third party accountants like Mazars to hold onto the subpoenaed materials until the dispute over the subpoena's validity is finally resolved in court." In U.S. v. Deloitte, the accounting company chose to litigate a subpoena from the IRS on grounds that the documents demanded were covered by the work product privilege. The court allowed Deloitte to withhold the documents while the subpoena was litigated, but it didn't instruct the company to do so at the behest of its client Dow Chemical. Besides which, that was a civil enforcement action, not an investigative subpoena from Congress.

(And while we're on the subject of bogus case cites, relying on one case from the 1880s and two from the 1950s arising out of the House Un-American Activities Committee is some WEAK SHIT.)

Third of all, Congress is in no wise constrained by Trump's nuisance litigation. The Oversight Committee is perfectly within its rights to hold Mazars in contempt of Congress, and Stefan Passentino's made-up rules to the contrary are ballsy, but irrelevant. And Jim Jordan can write letters attempting to give Mazars legal cover if it chooses to fight, but Cummings's subpoena remains facially valid and legally enforceable. In fact, courts are loath to interfere with the political prerogatives of the other two branches of government, as demonstrated by another case Trump's team cites. In Eastland v. United States Servicemen's Fund, the Supreme Court was highly deferential to the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security's right to demand financial documents from an anti-Vietnam War non-profit, refusing to second-guess the Committee's legislative purpose.

TL, DR? This case is crap. It's a political document, intended to bully the accountants into refusing to comply with Congress. And the DC District is highly unlikely to take it seriously.


[Trump v. Cummings / AICPA Code of Professional Conduct / United States v. Deloitte LLP, 610 F.3d 129 (D.C. Cir. 2010) / Eastland v. United States Servicemen's Fund, 421 U.S. 491 (1975)]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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