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Appeals court clears way for Congress to seek Trump financial records

The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday ruled that House Democrats can obtain President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE's financial records, setting up a potential Supreme Court challenge.

The circuit court judges declined a request from Trump to have the court's full bench of judges hear the case after a three-judge panel in October denied Trump’s request to shield his longtime accounting firm Mazars from having to comply with lawmakers' subpoena for records.

The judges voted 8 to 3 against rehearing the case. Those in the majority included seven judges appointed by Democrats, including Chief Judge Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandDemocrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein 51 percent want Barrett seated on Supreme Court: poll Senate Republicans offer constitutional amendment to block Supreme Court packing MORE, and one Republican appointee, Judge Thomas B. Griffith. The dissenters were all Republican appointees.

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The ruling does not mean Democrats will immediately have access to Trump's records. Trump's lawyers have already indicated they would appeal to the Supreme Court.

The case involves a House Oversight and Reform Committee subpoena for records from Mazars. Democrats issued a subpoena in April to Trump's accounting firm, seeking years of financial records on Trump and several of his business entities.

In a 2-1 ruling in October, the panel ruled that the subpoena was "valid and enforceable."

Three circuit court judges dissented from the Wednesday order denying Trump’s request for a rehearing, indicating that they sided with Trump but were outvoted.

Judge Gregory Katsas, a Trump appointee, described the denial of Trump’s request as virtually unprecedented.

“For the second time in American history, an Article III court has undertaken to enforce a congressional subpoena for the records of a sitting President,” Katsas wrote in his dissent, referencing a case from 1974 involving former President Nixon.

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Judge Karen Henderson, a George H.W. Bush appointee, joined the dissent from Katsas and a separate dissent from Judge Neomi Rao, another Trump appointee.

Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyTrump, House lawyers return to court in fight over subpoena for financial records Safeguarding US elections by sanctioning Russian sovereign debt Fears grow of voter suppression in Texas MORE (D-N.Y.), acting chairwoman of the Oversight Committee, said in a statement Thursday that the appeals court's ruling "is another victory for the fundamental principles of the rule of law and separation of powers. "

"Congress has a constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the executive branch, and no one is above the law—not the President, and certainly not his private companies," she said. "It has now been seven months since the Oversight Committee asked for these records.  It is time for the President to let us do our job and stop blocking Mazars from complying with the Committee’s lawful subpoena.”

Trump's lawsuit challenging the Oversight and Reform Committee's subpoena is one of several legal cases over the president's tax and financial records.

In another case, Trump is challenging a grand jury subpoena that the Manhattan District Attorney's Office issued to Mazars. That subpoena is similar to the Oversight and Reform Committee's subpoena, but the New York prosecutors have also explicitly asked for Trump's tax returns. 

A federal appeals court in New York ruled against Trump in that case, and the president's lawyers are expected to appeal it to the Supreme Court.

Additionally, the House Ways and Means Committee has filed a lawsuit in an effort to get a judge to order the Treasury and IRS to provide it with six years of Trump's federal tax returns, and Trump has filed a lawsuit in an effort to prevent the committee from obtaining his New York state tax returns.

Trump suffered a setback in the latter case on Monday when a district court judge in D.C. dismissed Trump's claims against two of the defendants in that lawsuit.

Trump is also seeking to block subpoenas that the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees issued to Deutsche Bank and Capital One for his financial records. That case is currently pending before the federal appeals court in New York.

Updated on Nov. 14 at 3:38 p.m.