Trump Lawyers: Trump Accountants Will Sleep With The Fishes
Donald Trump's attorneys are freaking the fuck out. We're not sure what's in those financials, but the president's lawyers are currently threatening to sue his accountants if they comply with a congressional subpoena and hand 'em over. Probably just because Trump is a modest, retiring man, loath to brag about his net worth and extensive philanthropic giving. Right? Well, it looks like we may be about to find out, since three House Committees dropped subpoenas yesterday, and a fourth appears poised to go to court with the Treasury over Trump's tax returns.
Let's start in the Ways and Means Committee, which has already told IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig to cough 'em up. In reply, Trump's newest lawyer on the block William Consovoy sent this batshit letter to the Treasury Department, mansplaining how complying with the plain language of the law is actually ILLEGAL, so giving Trump's returns to Congress is just like pissing on the flag while taking an oath to al Qaeda!
Do some law at us, William Consovoy!
Chairman Neal begins with a red herring. He stresses the mandatory language of section 6103(f): "Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means ... the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information." 26 U.S.C. §6103(f)(1) (emphasis added). But highlighting the word "shall" is a talking point, not a serious legal argument. "It is a proposition too plain to be contested" that no statute -- not even one that uses mandatory language -- can be used to violate the Constitution. Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137, 177 (1803). After all, it is "the Constitution" that Chairman Neal and his colleagues took an oath to "support and defend."
Well ... those are all words. They don't actually mean anything, but there sure are a lot of them, huh? In fact Consovoy banged on for eleventy more paragraphs about nobody believing that Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal has a legitimate legislative purpose, and thus it is just like making Rosa Parks sit in the back of the bus.
What if, during the heights of the civil-rights movement, the Democrat-controlled House tried to intimidate African-American leaders by requesting their tax returns? Surely no one would agree with Chairman Neal that the other branches could not "question or second guess the motivations" of Congress.
This is your brain on Dinesh D'Souza. Okay, one more. But then we're cutting you off -- that stuff is a lot stronger than the ditchweed from back when you were a kid.
Congress has no constitutional authority to act like a junior-varsity IRS, rerunning individual examinations or flyspecking the agency's calculations. Congress especially has no constitutional authority to interfere with an ongoing examination, which would infringe "the Executive Branch's function of executing the law."
We THINK he is saying that getting the tax returns would "interfere" with the IRS's "audit" of the president, which, sure, let's go with that. But in the meantime Hillary "Benghazi Whitewater Emails Uranium One Foundation" Clinton would like a word, fellas. And we're pretty sure the word is FUCK YOU.
You know the wheels are really coming off your democracy when the president's lawyers are urging his longtime accountants at Mazars USA to disregard a House Oversight Committee subpoena, while making barely veiled threats to sue the company if it complies. Politico reports:
"It is no secret that the Democrat Party has decided to use its new House majority to launch a flood of investigations into the president's personal affairs in hopes of using anything they can find to damage him politically," Consovoy and Passantino wrote to Jerry D. Bernstein, Mazars' outside counsel.
The attorneys said they were formally putting Mazars "on notice" — an implicit threat of legal action. They also urged Bernstein to hold off on providing the documents to Cummings until the subpoena can be litigated in court, suggesting that a protracted legal battle is likely to ensue.
Lotsa luck suing your accountants for "illegally" abiding by the law fellas. Which is more or less what Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings said in a memo Friday, announcing his intention to issue Mazars a "friendly" subpoena -- i.e. requested by the recipient to give him legal cover to breach whatever professional obligation he has not to disclose. The company has indicated it intends to comply with the request for 10 years of Trump's financial documents relating to his businesses, taxes, revocable trust, loan applications, and charitable foundation. Which will totally exonerate the president, you bet!
Cummings also had some choice words for Rep. Jim Jordan in a section titled, "The Ranking Member's Unprecedented Actions":
Finally, I want to address troubling actions taken by Ranking Member Jordan relating to this and other Committee investigations. On March 27, 2019, Ranking Member Jordan sent a letter directly to Mazars -- a custodian of records being sought by the Committee -- as part of an effort to urge the company not to comply with the Committee's legitimate request or cooperate with Committee's duly authorized investigation.
It is not an understatement to call the Ranking Member's action unprecedented. In my entire tenure in Congress, regardless of how much I and my Democratic colleagues may have disagreed with the Committee's actions, I never would have publicly encouraged noncompliance by a custodian of records. Obviously, such actions undermine the authority of the Committee and impair its investigations.
In his letter to Mazars, Ranking Member Jordan wrote: "We write to express to you our concerns with the Chairman's inquiry as exceeding the Committee's legislative authority under House Rule X." He also wrote: "his inquiry does not appear to have a valid legislative purpose and instead seems to seek information to embarrass a private individual."
However, the Ranking Member's letter to Mazars omitted the fact -- cited repeatedly by Republican Chairmen -- that under House Rule X, the Committee has broad latitude to investigate "any matter at any time." His letter also omitted the fact that documents already obtained by the Committee -- on their face -- raise grave questions about whether the President has been accurate in his financial reporting.
After accusing Jordan of obstructing the business of Congress and telling him that he is BAD AT LAW, Cummings reminded him of that time Jordan personally made Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal testify about his private sector compensation in the Benghazi investigation. Then he dropped the subpoena. As did Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters and Intel Chair Adam Schiff, who issued their own friendly subpoena yesterday to Deutsche Bank for all those Trump financial documents.
You voted, and now it's subpoena-thirty all the time! BRING IT.
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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.