Judge denies Trump spokesman’s effort to force Jan. 6 committee to return financial records
A federal judge on Thursday rejected an effort by a spokesman for former President Trump to force the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot to return a trove of his personal financial records that the panel had obtained by subpoena.
Taylor Budowich sued the select committee in December, challenging its authority to issue the subpoena for his bank records and asking for an order to claw back the documents after his bank had complied with the demand.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said during a hearing on Thursday that he would deny Budowich’s motion, saying that the Constitution prohibits courts from directing such orders at members of Congress.
“There really is no question that this Court has no jurisdiction to order Congress under the Speech or Debate Clause to return documents that it has received,” said Boasberg, who was appointed by former President Obama.
In a statement emailed to The Hill, Budowich said he was seeking with the suit to determine if there were any limitations to a “partisan Congress” infringing on the rights of a private citizen.
“As I have said since day one, the challenge I have brought forward is not merely about me or my personal bank records—besides a tendency to impulse buy on Instagram, there is little of interest to be found. Instead, it’s to answer the important question: are there any limitations preventing a partisan Congress from infringing on the rights and privacies of American citizens?” he said.
“After complying with this illegitimate committee, they know I have done nothing wrong. Yet, they are still weaponizing their power against their political opponents in such a way that should be chilling to every American. Regardless of where this case ends, the political pendulum will continue to swing and the Republican wave that is set to sweep the Midterms will look to this decision to inform its actions.”
Christopher Dempsey, Budowich’s attorney, said during the hearing on Thursday that he would consult with his client about next steps in the case.
The subpoena directed at JPMorgan Chase for Budowich’s records is sealed, but a subpoena issued by the select committee to the spokesman in November says that the lawmakers have reason to believe he helped direct $200,000 to a nonprofit that promoted the “Stop the Steal” rally just before the Jan. 6 attack.
“According to information provided to the Select Committee and press reports, you solicited a 501(c)(4) organization to conduct a social media and radio advertising campaign to encourage people to attend the rally held on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, in support of then-President Trump and his allegations of election fraud,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee’s chairman, wrote to Budowich.
Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, now a partner at the firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, is representing JPMorgan Chase in the lawsuit and made an appearance during the virtual hearing in which she spoke only briefly.
The ruling is another court victory for the select committee and comes just hours after the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 to deny Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block the panel from obtaining White House records from the National Archives.
Boasberg said that even if he believed he had jurisdiction over the dispute, he would be bound by the higher court’s ruling in Trump’s lawsuit to rule that the committee had a valid legislative purpose to issue the subpoena and would be inclined to deny Budowich’s other legal challenges against the panel’s structure, which includes just two House Republicans selected by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The judge scheduled a hearing for Jan. 27 to discuss next steps in the case.
Updated at 12:12 p.m.
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