Trump sues Deutsche Bank, Capital One to keep his financial records secret

His lawyers claim the subpoenas had no legitimate purpose and were an attempt for political gain

Photo: EPA US President Donald Trump

Over two decades, Deutsche Bank lent current US President Donald J. Trump billions of dollars, even as his tarnished financial record put him off limits for most of Wall Street. “You are a great friend,” Trump wrote to his Deutsche Bank contact in 1998 in response. “We have a great relationship,” he said in 2013. “They are totally happy with me,” he declared three years later.

But thing seem to have changed with Trump suing now Deutsche Bank and Capital One in an attempt to block congressional subpoenas for his financial records that Democrats say were issued as part of investigations into foreign influence in US politics.

The lawsuit by the president, his sons Donald Jr and Eric and his daughter Ivanka was filed on 29 April in federal court in Manhattan. The Trump Organisation and the Donald J Trump Revocable Trust are among the other plaintiffs. In its filing, Trump's team is requesting the court to declare the House subpoenas as "invalid and unenforceable,” and to issue a “permanent injunction quashing the subpoenas.” Additionally, the complaint calls for a “permanent injunction prohibiting Deutsche Bank and Capital One from disclosing, revealing, delivering, or producing the requested information, or otherwise complying with the subpoenas.”

"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,” the complaint added.

The move represents the latest escalation in Trump’s fight against mounting House investigations into his administration, presidential campaign and business empire. The subpoena, issued 15 April, demanded Deutsche Bank hand over materials related to the Trump family’s companies — including “parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, branches, divisions, partnerships, properties, groups, special purpose entities, joint ventures, predecessors, successors or any other entity in which they have or had a controlling interest.” It also sought information about any accounts held by Trump and his immediate family, including materials that were provided to the bank when those accounts were opened. The deadline to comply with the subpoena was May 6.

Still, if the Deutsche Bank handed over even parts of Trump’s returns, it would be a dramatic end run around the president, who broke with decades of precedent by refusing to release them during the 2016 campaign.

But if it doesn't because of Trump's pressure, then the decision would mark a dangerous abuse of executive authority for Trump that the Democrats will indeed address forcefully. For nearly two weeks, Democrats have debated how to respond to Robert S. Mueller’s findings that President Trump might have obstructed justice, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her fractious rank and file to avoid a broad, open-ended impeachment inquiry she believed could backfire disastrously in 2020. For now impeachment still remains unlikely, but it might look otherwise in case Trump family continues to block oversight of its finances.

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