Democrats inch closer to ultimate prize: Trump's financial records

Since launching his bid for the presidency in June of 2015, Donald Trump has gone to exceptional lengths to keep his personal and business financial records out of the public eye.

At a freewheeling press conference on Thursday afternoon, the president again lamented Democrats' efforts to retrieve his tax information, telling reporters, "I have great [financial] statements."

"...Bob Mueller and his group of 18 killers have gone over my taxes, they've gone over my financial statements to a level that nobody has gone over them before," Trump said.

But this week, his political opponents made substantial and noteworthy strides in dislodging some of the president's most closely guarded secrets.

In the past three days, two federal judges have ruled in favor of congressional Democrats in their efforts to obtain documents from President Trump's former financial institutions, and state lawmakers in New York passed legislation that would give Congress the power to access Trump's state returns.

As Democrats consider whether to pursue impeachment proceedings, the president's financial records could provide fodder for those in the caucus eager to move forward.

President Trump, who has vowed to fight "all the subpoenas," and his administration have maintained a posture of blocking Congress' overtures for testimony and documents at almost every opportunity. But as the courts begin to weigh in, Democrats could make headway in their quest to investigate the president in the coming weeks or months.

The back-to-back court rulings this week are the first such judicial rulings in the ongoing standoff between the legislative and executive branches over congressional oversight.

On Monday, a federal judge in Washington ruled in favor of the House Oversight Committee after President Trump and the Trump Organization filed suit against Democratic chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings, seeking relief from his subpoena request for the president's financial records.

The president's lawyers called Democrats' efforts to obtain Trump's financial information an "all-out political war," but U.S. Judge Amit Mehta wrote Monday that Democrats have "facially valid legislative purposes" to obtain information requested in their subpoena of Mazars USA, the president's former accounting firm.

On Wednesday, a New York-based federal judge came to the same conclusion after the president, his children and his namesake company argued that subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Capital One seeking Trump's financial records lacked legislative purpose and sought a court order preventing the banks from complying.

As one of the Trump Organization's most reliable lenders in recent years, Deutsche Bank has come under scrutiny from several investigative bodies examining the president's personal finances, including the New York Attorney General's office, multiple congressional committees and special counsel Robert Mueller's office.

The president's lawyers have already filed an appeal in the Washington, DC, case, and are expected to do the same in New York.

With regard to the New York legislature's bill, which Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign, it's unclear if Democrats would exercise their newfound authority to probe Trump's state taxes under the prospective legislation.

An aide to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., has said it wouldn't help with his committee's standing request from the IRS for six years' worth of President Trump's tax records.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has thus far rebuffed that request, which cites a 1920s-era law requiring the Treasury to hand Congress any tax information it requests, telling lawmakers on Wednesday that he expects the matter to be resolved in court.

"If the third branch of government opines on Congress' right," Mnuchin said, "then we would obviously supply the documents."

Beyond the president's financial records, Democrats in Congress have made progress this week on another front: access to a less-redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's final report and some of the investigation's underlying evidence.

On Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee struck a deal with the Justice Department to view some of that underlying evidence on a rolling basis, beginning as early as this week.

The mounting probes reached a fever pitch on Wednesday when Trump convened an impromptu Rose Garden press conference, during which he lashed out at Democrats and ordered them to "get these phony investigations over with."

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump's press conference a "stunt" and a "temper tantrum" meant to deflect attention away from the court decisions.

ABC News' Lauren Pearle and Benjamin Siegel contributed reporting.
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