WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization have asked a U.S. judge to block a congressional subpoena seeking business records from his longtime accounting firm Mazars USA LLP.
The subpoena is part of sweeping series of requests by Democratic lawmakers for financial records from the president's company and Trump himself. Trump has refused to cooperate, and Monday's lawsuit in Washington shifts what is certain to be an intense battle into the federal courts.
Trump's personal lawyers said the House Oversight Committee is exceeding its authority by rummaging in his personal business records without a "legitimate legislative purpose." Trump is suing in his individual capacity, and not as president.
"There is no possible legislation at the end of this tunnel," Trump's attorneys said in the complaint, accusing the committee led by Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings of assuming the investigatory powers of the U.S. Justice Department.
"Its goal is to expose plaintiffs' private financial information for the sake of exposure, with the hope that it will turn up something that Democrats can use as a political tool against the president now and in the 2020 election," the lawyers said.
Mazars is required to comply with the subpoena by noon on April 29.
"The White House is engaged in unprecedented stonewalling on all fronts, and they have refused to produce a single document or witness to the Oversight Committee during this entire year," Cummings said in a statement. "The president has a long history of trying to use baseless lawsuits to attack his adversaries."
In a March 4 letter, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone also argued that lawmakers failed to establish a "legitimate legislative purpose" in rebuffing a request for White House records related to security-clearance procedures. Cipollone cited a pair of U.S. Supreme Court rulings to support his case.
House Democrats have also asked the U.S. Treasury Department to turn over the past six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns and related documents. The department is reviewing that request.
Matt Dallek, a political historian at the George Washington University, said Trump's lawsuit may be politically savvy but not likely to succeed given Congress's power to oversee the executive branch.