House deal for Trump records lets accounting firm decide what to release
Trump and the House Oversight Committee agreed that “Mazars and his counsel will exercise their independent judgment in determining” which documents to turn over in the four categories first requested by subpoena in April 2019.
If approved by a judge, the settlement will end an unprecedented battle over how far Congress can go to investigate the country’s chief executive’s alleged corruption, after the courts ruled on Trump’s claims that he faced political persecution and had protections in place. that former presidents retain after leaving office after being questioned by lawmakers under the Constitution’s separation of powers.
A six-page proposal from the parties submitted to U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta fleshes out a summary announcement made by House committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.) on Sept. 1.
“After numerous court victories, I am pleased that my committee has now reached an agreement to obtain key financial documents that former President Trump fought for years to hide from Congress,” Maloney said in a statement. .
The proposed legal settlement — signed by Trump attorney Patrick Strawbridge, House General Counsel Douglas Letter and Mazars attorney Thomas Manisero — says that:
- Mazars will turn over records, source documents and engagement letters from 2014 to 2018 that “reference, indicate or discuss any undisclosed, false or otherwise inaccurate information” about Trump’s assets, liabilities or income, such as ‘they’re listed in his executive financial disclosure forms. the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) from 2015 to 2018, or as reported in the Trump Organization’s Voluntary Payments to the US Treasury Department in 2017-2018. The documents to be submitted do not have to refer to the EMB or Treasury Department reports themselves. Mazars must forward communications relating to any concerns raised during the preparation, review or audit of these documents or the information they contain.
- Mazars “may use all available information, including all documents in its possession and publicly available records” to identify responsive records, the parties agreed, but it is not required to undertake a new analysis. The stipulation also allows Mazars to respond to the subpoena for documents related to the federal lease of the Trump International Hotel recently sold by the former president in the Old Post Office Building in downtown Washington, D.C. covering the period from his election in November 2016 to 2018, but only from the company that held the lease, Trump Old Post Office LLC.
- Mazars will release documents from Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017 through 2018 related to financial ties or dealings between Trump or a Trump entity and “any foreign state or foreign state agency, the United States, any federal agency, any state or state agency or government official. These links do not include payments to tax authorities. Mazars must redact unlinked information and may not disclose information about “relationships, transactions or links” between Trump or his companies with purely private persons or entities, unless Mazars “has a reasonable belief” that they were acting on behalf of a designated government or agency or official, specifies the agreement.
With respect to foreign ties and transactions, Mazars may use lists provided by the Chamber of Foreign and National Officials to search, as well as “reliable proxies” for government officials such as clients of the hotel charged a “government rate” or those “known or reasonably suspected to be acting for or on behalf of a designated entity or official. Mazars must exercise particular care in assessing guests known to have ties to about 90 countries designated by the State Department as “Major Money Laundering”, according to the agreement.
The long-running case began in April 2019 when Trump sued to overturn an eight-year House subpoena of his financial records dating back to 2011, which indicated his presidency exposed weaknesses in the surveillance that could only be resolved with information. The committee said it was seeking the documents to corroborate the testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen that Trump artificially inflated and deflated the reported value of his assets for personal gain.
These allegations have evolved into a series of challenges to Trump and his companies by authorities in New York State. Mazars severed ties with Trump in February, saying a decade of his financial statements “should no longer be relied upon” after scrutiny by the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James (D).
In August, Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions more than 400 times in a deposition by James’s team about his businesses, real estate appraisals and loans in a civil investigation into his finances. And the Trump Organization’s longtime top finance official, Allen Weisselberg, pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to testify in an upcoming lawsuit against the company, though he refused to cooperate with the office. of the Manhattan District Attorney against Trump himself.
Trump was the first major party candidate in decades to refuse to release his tax returns, even as he refused to divest himself of his business assets, blocked Democratic congressional investigations and oversaw the agency government lease for his flagship Washington hotel as his companies banked millions. of the federal government and foreign powers.
The July Court of Appeals panel, led by Chief Justice Sri Srinivasan, reconsidered the case after the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark opinion in July 2020 upholding Congress’s authority to general to issue subpoenas for a president’s personal financial records, but sending the case back to lower courts for further proceedings. .
Trump sued in May 2019 to block the publication, arguing that he had absolute immunity from legislative inquiries and that House Democrats only wanted to expose his data for political purposes.
Srinivasan wrote that the committee had “amassed detailed evidence of alleged misrepresentations and omissions” in the disclosure forms required by Trump and provided substantial explanations on how the requested information could inform changes to federal law. intended to protect taxpayers and police, personal dealings and other conflicts of interest between politicians, adding that if the standard of proof was not sufficient in this case, the court doubted that a Congress could obtain the papers of ‘a president.