The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Judge rejects Trump’s request to halt congressional subpoenas for his banking records

President Trump delivers a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 22.
President Trump delivers a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 22. (Evan Vucci/AP)
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NEW YORK — A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a request by President Trump to block congressional subpoenas for his banking records, dealing another blow to the president in his bid to block Democratic investigations into his personal finances.

The decision by District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos could clear the way for Deutsche Bank, the president’s biggest creditor, and Capital One to hand over years of financial records from Trump, his three eldest children and the president’s company to two House committees. Trump’s attorney told Ramos they were likely to appeal the decision.

This is the second court defeat for Trump this week in his fight to keep his finances secret. On Monday, a federal judge in Washington rejected Trump’s effort to block the House Oversight Committee’s demands for records from Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA. Trump’s attorneys notified the judge on Tuesday that they have appealed “all aspects” of that ruling.

President Trump told reporters on April 24 that the White House will fight to block House Democrats from questioning current and former aides. (Video: The Washington Post)

“Two in one week: Mazars Monday, Deutsche Bank today,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said.

“Another day, another very important ruling,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said. Schiff is chair of the House Intelligence Committee, which issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank.

In a related development, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform said late Wednesday it had reached an agreement with Trump’s attorneys to seek an expedited appeal in the case involving his accounting firm. The request would be subject to approval from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

If the court approves an accelerated schedule in the case, the committee agreed to suspend enforcement of its subpoena to Mazars during the appeal.

Chairman Elijah E. Cummings said he was encouraged the two sides had reached an agreement.

“I hope the court approves our request so we can move forward and effectively discharge our responsibilities under the Constitution.”

Trump and congressional Democrats are locked in an escalating fight over the president’s financial records. The Treasury Department has also declined to turn over the president’s tax returns to a congressional committee despite a confidential Internal Revenue Service legal memo that found it should.

Trump and his attorneys have called the subpoenas from the various House committees politically motivated attacks and presidential harassment.

All Democrats “are geared up to do, six committees, is squander time, day after day, trying to find anything which will be bad for me,” Trump said in a Twitter post Thursday morning. “A pure fishing expedition like this never happened before, & it should never happen again!”

Trump’s attorneys argued in federal court Wednesday the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees are asking for a broad set of financial information that would violate the president’s privacy.

“They are looking for [bank] records about minors, about in-laws,” said Trump attorney Patrick Strawbridge, claiming that even information about Trump’s grandchildren could be swept up in the subpoenas of Deutsche Bank and Capital One.

An attorney representing the House committees said that the subpoenas were part of a larger investigation and that lawmakers were well within their rights to request the information. “This is not an investigation just about Trump and his family,” said attorney Douglas Neal Letter.

After hearing more than hour and a half of arguments, Ramos rejected Trump’s motion for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented the banks from turning over any financial records. Trump and his family “are unlikely to succeed on merits of their claims,” Ramos said, reading from a lengthy decision from the bench. “I will not enjoin enforcement of the subpoenas.”

This brings House Democrats one step closer to getting access to a trove of financial information about Trump and his business.

Deutsche Bank has been a major lender to both the Trump Organization and Kushner Companies, which previously was run by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who now is a presidential adviser. Trump’s relationship with the bank goes back years, including a period when Trump had trouble paying back a loan for a Chicago tower. Trump sued the bank, saying it had played a role in a broader financial crisis that hurt the project. Trump and Deutsche Bank eventually settled the case and the bank continued to lend to him.

Kushner also has an extensive relationship with the German bank. Shortly before Election Day in 2016, Deutsche Bank finalized a $285 million loan to Kushner’s real estate company, The Washington Post has previously reported. At the time, the bank was negotiating settlements with federal and New York regulators.

Congressional Democrats have long said they want to examine the bank’s loans to the Trump and Kushner businesses, particularly to see if there is any connection to money-laundering in Russia.

In a statement, Deutsche Bank said: “We remain committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations and will abide by a court order regarding such investigations.”

Capital One did not return an email seeking comment.

Kranish and Sonmez reported from Washington. Reis Thebault and Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report.