US President- elect Donald Trump stands with his children Ivanka and Donald Jr., during Trump's press conference at Trump Tower in New York on January 11,...
TIMOTHY A. CLARY

Appeals court rules against Trump on subpoenas for financial materials

Donald Trump’s legal efforts to hide his tax returns and related financial records have not gone especially well. A month ago, for example, a federal appeals court ruled against Team Trump, which had tried to block a subpoena from New York prosecutors who are seeking the president’s financial records as part of an investigation into the Republican’s hush-money scandal.

Soon after, an entirely different federal appeals court also ruled against Team Trump in a case dealing with a U.S. House subpoena of Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for the president’s tax returns.

Today, as NBC News reported, yet another federal appeals court also ruled against Team Trump in a related case.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that it would not block congressional subpoenas for President Donald Trump’s financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One, affirming a lower court ruling and dealing the president another legal blow.

Trump and several members of his family sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One this year seeking to block them from responding to the subpoenas issued by House Democrats, which they said had “no legitimate or legislative purpose.” The Democratic-controlled House Intelligence and Financial Services committees issued the subpoenas in April as part of investigations into alleged foreign influence in U.S. elections.

The entire 2nd Circuit ruling is online here. It notes, among other things, that the congressional committees’ “interests in pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest than whatever public interest inheres in avoiding the risk of a Chief Executive’s distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions.”

As for the road ahead, things are likely to get a little tricky. The Washington Post summarized the next steps in this case:

The majority decision ordered the district court to give Trump and his family time to identify “all sensitive documents” that should potentially be excluded from the subpoenas. The committees could object to those potential exclusions, the court ruled.

“We have recognized that this loss of privacy is irreparable,” the majority decision said. But that is mitigated by the District Court review ordered by the court, the judges ruled. “The seriousness of the hardship … should be assessed in light of the fact that [Trump] is already required to expose for public scrutiny a considerable amount” of personal financial information.

After considering Trump’s arguments, “we conclude that they have not shown a likelihood of success on any of them,” the majority decision said.

Meanwhile, it’s a safe bet that the president’s legal team will take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently handed Trump a temporary victory, blocking the subpoena in the Mazars case.

That, however, was largely a procedural question, and there’s no reason to assume that the justices are prepared to help the president with his larger effort to keep his financial records hidden.