Cummings Issues Statement on Court Rejecting President’s Challenge to Congressional Authority to Subpoena Financial Documents

May 20, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (May 20, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued the following statement in response to a federal district court rejecting President Trump’s challenge to congressional authority and ruling that Mazars USA LLP, the accounting firm that prepared financial statements for President Trump, must comply with the Committee’s subpoena for financial records:

“Today’s decision is a resounding victory for the rule of law and our Constitutional system of checks and balances.  The court recognized the basic, but crucial fact that Congress has authority to conduct investigations as part of our core function under the Constitution.  The court rejected President Trump’s repeated claim that congressional investigations serve no ‘legislative function’—a baseless argument made in response to multiple investigations by the House of Representatives.  Congress must have access to the information we need to do our job effectively and efficiently, and we urge the President to stop engaging in this unprecedented cover-up and start complying with the law.”

 

Key Quotes from Court Decision

 

  • “Courts have grappled for more than a century with the question of the scope of Congress’s investigative power.  The binding principle that emerges from these judicial decisions is that courts must presume Congress is acting in furtherance of its constitutional responsibility to legislate and must defer to congressional judgments about what Congress needs to carry out that purpose.  To be sure, there are limits on Congress’s investigative authority.  But those limits do not substantially constrain Congress.  So long as Congress investigates on a subject matter on which ‘legislation could be had,’ Congress acts as contemplated by Article I of the Constitution.”  [Page 3]

 

  • “It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct—past or present—even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”  [Page 24]

 

  • “Therefore, a congressional investigation that seeks to uncover wrongdoing does not, without more, exceed the scope of Congress’s authority.”  [Page 28]

 

  • “History has shown that congressionally-exposed criminal conduct by the President or a high-ranking Executive Branch official can lead to legislation.”  [Page 29]

 

  • “In short, as long as there is a facially valid legislative purpose for the investigation, Congress acts within its constitutional authority.  That is the case here.”  [Page 34]
116th Congress