MANHATTAN (CN) – A federal judge refused President Donald Trump an injunction Wednesday in the subpoena fight over his personal and business bank records at Deutsche Bank and Capital One.
A German lender in the swirl of a money laundering scandal, Deutsche has been identified as one of the few financial institutions willing to do business with Trump after his casino bankruptcies in the 1990s. The New York Times reported on Monday that the bank’s anti-money laundering specialist expressed her concerns over accounts associated with Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, but the bank’s executives rejected her recommendation to send their transactions to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes and Enforcement Unit.
Hours ahead of today’s hearing before U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos in New York, Deutsche Bank claimed to have had a bug in the software they used to detect money laundering.
Trump’s attorney Patrick Strawbridge argued in court that the subpoenas serve no legitimate or lawful purpose.
“I think this is important to emphasize that this isn’t a subpoena for government activity,” Strawbridge said.
“They’re literally looking for information about minors,” added Strawbridge, from the firm Consovoy McCarthy Park. “They’re looking for information about in-laws.”
Douglas Letter, general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives, argued meanwhile that inquiries into possible financial crimes must consider such matters.
“They put their relatives in charge,” Letter said, referring to perpetrators of such offenses. “This is what people committing financial fraud do.”
In his written briefings, Letter emphasized that the committees were conducting various investigations on issues of national significance. Among their “wide-ranging investigations,” the Committee on Financial Services listed probes into loan fraud, Bank Secrecy Act compliance and money laundering. The House Intelligence Committee cited its investigations into “Russia and other foreign entities to influence the U.S. political process during and since the 2016 election.”
The order by Ramos this afternoon refusing Trump an injunction is the latest in a succession of blows to the president’s longtime effort to keep his finances secret.
On Monday, another federal judge gave Trump’s accountants at Mazars USA LLP seven days to cough up his financial records. Today’s hearing meanwhile began mere hours after the New York Assembly authorized the release of Trump’s state tax returns to the U.S. House of Representatives.
In citing that legit purpose, Ramos notes that the House said it's investigating more than $2 billion in loans to President Trump and business-wide compliance with money laundering laws.— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) May 22, 2019
Ramos: "These subpoenas are all in service of facially legitimate investigative purposes."— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) May 22, 2019
Ramos: The court will not engage in a line-by-line review of the subpoenas' requests.— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) May 22, 2019
That's not the Supreme Court's standard, he noted.
Ramos rejects the notion that these subpoenas are about "exposure for the sake of exposure."— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) May 22, 2019
Agreeing the Committees, Ramos find that the court does not have the authority to testing the motives of committee members.
"Such is not our function," Ramos said.
Ramos notes that a congressional subpoena of a sitting president is "serious" as colloquially understood, but it does not necessarily present a "serious" legal question.— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) May 22, 2019
"The court concludes that the plaintiffs have not raised any serious questions" moving forward, he says.
Ramos notes that the plaintiffs will likely appeal and ask for a stay of his ruling, which he concludes.— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) May 22, 2019
Strawbridge immediately asks for a stay of his ruling.
"That request is denied," Ramos said.
Update: @DeutscheBank says it'll abide by the court order.— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) May 22, 2019