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Case Name Trump v. Committee on Oversight and Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives PR-DC-0016
Docket / Court 1:19-cv-01136-APM ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Presidential Authority
Special Collection Take Care
Case Summary
On April 22, 2019, President Donald Trump (in his capacity as a private citizen) and various Trump entities filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Representative Elijah E. Cummings (in his official capacity as Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight ... read more >
On April 22, 2019, President Donald Trump (in his capacity as a private citizen) and various Trump entities filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Representative Elijah E. Cummings (in his official capacity as Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform), Peter Kenny (in his official capacity as Chief Investigative Counsel of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform), and Mazars USA LLP. Plaintiffs alleged that a subpoena issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform (Committee) on April 15, 2019 to Mazars USA LLP (Plaintiff’s longtime accountant), seeking financial records and information from 2011 through 2018, was unenforceable because it had no legitimate legislative purpose and to take action under the Declaratory Judgment Act (28 U.S.C. § 2201). They asked the court to issue a declaratory judgement that the subpoena was invalid and unenforceable, permanent injunctions to “quash” the subpoena and prevent the committee from enforcing or using it in any way, a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting Mazars from producing any information related to the subpoena, and reasonable costs and expenses including attorneys’ fees. Plaintiffs were represented by private counsel. The case was assigned to Judge Amit P. Mehta.

Plaintiffs alleged that the subpoena was part of a coordinated, politically-motivated campaign organized by the Democratic party 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.” Both parties seem to agree that the subpoena was in part motivated by Michael Cohen’s (Trump’s former lawyer) testimony to the Committee on February 27, 2019, which Plaintiffs also deem a “partisan stunt” conducted “under the guise of [an] investigation[].” During his testimony, Cohen alleged that financial statements prepared by the President’s accountants falsely represented the President’s assets and liabilities. Plaintiffs claimed that, because the subpoena threatens to expose Ppaintiffs’ confidential information and lacks “a legitimate legislative purpose,” the court has the power to declare it invalid and enjoin its enforcement.

On the same day they filed their complaint, plaintiffs filed a temporary restraining order (TRO) seeking to prevent Mazar from turning over any documents to the Committee, an emergency motion to shorten the time defendants had to respond to the TRO, and a motion for a preliminary injunction. On April 23, the parties met and determined a briefing schedule on Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction, which rendered their emergency motion and motion for a TRO moot. Plaintiffs also consented to the Committee’s intervention as a defendant, and entered a joint stipulation a few days later agreeing to dismiss Chairman Cummings and Mr. Kenny as defendants without prejudice. The Committee agreed to postpone its return date on the subpoena to Mazars until seven days after the court ruled on the Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

On May 9, the court notified the parties that the trial on the merits of the case would be consolidated with the hearing on the preliminary injunction. 2019 WL 2063207 Oral argument went ahead as scheduled on May 14.

On May 20, the court issued an opinion entering judgement in favor of the Oversight Committee and against plaintiffs. 2019 WL 2171378. The court explained that Congress has broad investigative authority (playing an important “informing” function, but confined by Constitutional structures and Supreme Court precedent), and that courts tasked with deciding whether Congress has used its investigative power improperly must be highly deferential to the legislative branch. The court found that the legislative reasons offered by the Committee adequately justified the subpoena (and noted that the Committee had identified several pieces of actual legislation that it asserted was related to its overall investigation of the President), and that the Plaintiff’s contentions as to why those reasons were invalid were not persuasive. It also declined to grant a request made by Plaintiffs at the oral argument seeking to stay the return date of the subpoena beyond the seven days already agreed upon by the parties, pending final appellate review by the D.C. Circuit.

Defendants appealed the court’s ruling on May 21. On July 12, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit court heard oral argument regarding the appeal. The appeal is pending.

Elise Coletta - 07/14/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Warrant or subpoena application
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Committee on Oversight and Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives
Plaintiff Description President Donald J. Trump (in his capacity as a private citizen); The Trump Organization, Inc.; Trump Organization LLC; The Trump Corporation; DJT Holdings LLC; The Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust; Trump Old Post Office LLC.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Source of Relief Litigation
Filing Year 2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:19-cv-01136 (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0016-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/24/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PR-DC-0016-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/22/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 25] (2019 WL 2063207) (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0016-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/09/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 35] (103 Fed.R.Serv.3d 1066) (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0016-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/20/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Mehta, Amit Priyavadan (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0016-0002 | PR-DC-0016-0003 | PR-DC-0016-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Consovoy, William S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0016-0001 | PR-DC-0016-9000
Strawbridge, Patrick (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0016-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Barbero, Megan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0016-9000
Bernstein, Jerry Daniel (New York) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0016-9000
Hanner, Brooks Mckinly (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0016-9000
Letter, Douglas (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0016-9000
Morse, Josephine T (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0016-9000
Schuelke, Henry F. III (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0016-9000
Tatelman, Todd B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0016-9000
Wechsler, Lawrence H (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0016-9000
Other Lawyers Cox, Duane Morley (Utah) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0016-9000

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