Appeals court asks DOJ to weigh in on Trump congressional subpoena fight

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to weigh in on the legal battle between President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE and the House Oversight and Reform Committee over a congressional subpoena for the president’s financial records.

The panel of judges asked the Justice Department to file a brief in the case by Aug. 6, and for each party to respond to that filing by Aug. 20.

The judges, who heard oral arguments in the case on Friday, had asked Trump’s personal attorney William Consovoy at the time why the DOJ wasn’t involved in the case.

ADVERTISEMENT

They pointed to previous lawsuits that targeted the president in a personal capacity where the DOJ had gotten involved.

“If the arguments here are really about the office of the presidency, why is the Department of Justice not participating?” D.C. Circuit Judge Neomi Rao, a Trump appointee, asked.

Consovoy told the judges that he did not know why the DOJ wasn't involved in the case, but stated that, because the subpoena had targeted Trump’s private records, it made sense for the president’s personal lawyers to be involved.

If the DOJ does file a brief, administration lawyers will go on the record as to whether they believe lawmakers have the authority to obtain Trump’s private financial documents.

The deadlines in Monday’s order also suggest that a ruling won’t be made in the case before the end of August.

Trump sued earlier this year to block the subpoena issued by Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsGOP Oversight report says Interior head met with group tied to former clients Nadler asks other House chairs to provide records that would help panel in making impeachment decision Nikki Haley voices 'complete support' for Pence MORE (D-Md.) for records from Trump’s accounting firm Mazars.

D.C. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled earlier this year to uphold the subpoena. And the panel of appellate judges on Friday appeared highly skeptical of the arguments presented to them by Consovoy.

The three judges pointed to Congress’s powers to investigate, and that the financial documents would likely help inform legislation proposed or already passed by House Democrats.