Judge upholds House Democrats' subpoena for Trump's financial records

Lawfare Senior Editor & Counsel Margaret Taylor discusses a judge's ruling in favor of House Democrats demanding Trump's personal accounting firm turn over financial documents.
10:37 | 05/21/19

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Transcript for Judge upholds House Democrats' subpoena for Trump's financial records
This post to impeach the president trump. It's been out there for quite a while giving a lot louder overnight. Some house Democrats went into Nancy Pelosi office you were staked out there. And they really turned up the heat on the speaker to start doing something. I'm impeached in the yellow there were definitely last night clashes behind closed doors between Pelosi and and leadership frankly now of course. Some leadership agreed with the with Nancy Pelosi but impeachment. Advocates really as one source described it to me quote stood tall. On the and really even tried to drive home the this idea of starting impeachment proceedings am for example. Graft skin a congressman raskin one of that members of the Judiciary Committee says. That if they start this now it that's it actually will strengthen their investigations. I'm in court may be able to to obtain a more documents and he went on about about how will strengthen their investigation but our job Parkinson actually. But put to speaker Pelosi today are you feeling pressure from your caucus and she said now. She won't let you. Usually in between are competent rocker arm position politically doesn't want to be moving towards impeachment she sees that as a bad game for Democrats. I going into the election on the other hand Democrats Margaret aren't getting anywhere with these subpoenas they are being completely shut down. Might in impeachment proceeding or at least the beginnings of one help them in some of these court cases to get what they want. It probably would. Some of the legal arguments that does trump administration is making to really stiff armed congrats in terms of documents and also testimony. By senior advisors. Is that there's no legitimate legislative her best that the congress is pursuing here. In the impeachment proceedings you don't need to talk about a legitimate legislative pressure it her best because you're talking about impeachment proceeding specifically which is in a separate part of the time. Constitutionally mandated investigation so there's room would you purpose written and into the into the law. Aunts and made it would help them but we don't know because it has been tested. It hasn't been testing and it will in some one thing we don't know is whether courts would move the use cases along so content. Citation cases are subpoena cases would court's move them along what even more quickly in the context of impeachment proceedings than in these sort of run of the mill. Investigative proceedings might my sense that they probably will and sense the urgency although we half seeing just yesterday yesterday. A district court issue an opinion very quickly their eye on an issue that relates to these things and so. We have seen at least one judgment pretty quickly to an opinion that sensing and recognizing the urgency even of the investigative powers of congress. You don't get to that particular case and the second the warrant could come back to this this issue subpoenas and we've we if you've been trying to keep track at home house Democrats from several committees have been dropping subpoenas and the White House all over the place. Document requests interview requests. And Catherine won the big ones kind of the mother of all subpoenas. That's looming although hasn't yet come down would be for Robert Mueller the special counsel himself him here we are almost June. And there's no deal to hear from him what's. They yet and Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee said this tentative date to hear from all are your member that date of coming Don Imus may fifteenth. I'm now that the chairmen Jerry Nadler you think seems shifting his toe and a little bit publicly he's been saying words more. Alleged we may have to resort. A two impeachment he's been saying that the Department of Justice has been cooperating but it but he's just saying is defense and that is and they haven't that it did but at least. Now our reporting in what we are learning today is that. A DOJ officials have in fact. Offer for Mueller to come in but what they want is public opening statement and then a testimony behind closed doors now we've learned that Democrats on the committee are. Pushing back against that they want his testimony to be public but the bottom line is. There's still negotiating. With Muller's team. Because they would be willing to budge on some things that may be that he can't testify publicly tips or still. We're waiting to see what happens with that but a look at here we are most at the end of may and now Warren June and they wanted to. Hear from him earlier this month so you have Robert Mueller obviously also concern and from your sourcing about the public optics of having to testify publicly and have to be put it very awkward position terror pulmonary our White House correspondent. Has been tracking the White House side of this fight terror and its interest in they aren't explicitly mentioned as part of these quiet negotiations. Of between the Justice Department house Democrats and Robert Muller's team. But the president's made very clear his desire not to see the special counsel testified. Right president trump wants this and more testimony from either dom again Robert Mueller bill Barr it just. Brings up the mullah report again and questions about obstruction of justice and also rehash is a lot of the nitty gritty details in that reporting as we know. That doubles in the we just heard Mitch McConnell calling it up presidential harassment that's a phrase that president trump uses a lot been able to sort of shift the message you know we're seeing a house right now the House Judiciary Committee a house oversight committee. Really struggling in this political game. You elected in the mid terms on a large part because they wanted. Voters want an oversight and it are not able to get oversight and that's a failure for them in 20/20 two and especially the Bakes are hungry for oversight some even hungry for impeachment. That what you're seeing right now is. Congress fighting to assert its way to show its constitutional power and you're showing the White House turning this into a political fight that they hope will be more damaging for the Democrats and. Yeah and score one for the house Democrats overnight in federal court there is one case that our murder Taylor has been tracking closely here as well. From Brookings Margaret this is a. The case everybody should pay attention to because it dealt a blow to the White House is Stonewall strategy. And a federal judge actually said that this private company that president's personal accounting firm actually has to comply with congress' request in turnover. Financial documents to the president. That's right and keep in mind though that trump has actually appealed the case so it's not a done deal yet. But judge on May toth who is that the judge in that case then the reasoning of his opinion was very clear and very grounded in established Supreme Court precedent. And basically what he sad was the house oversight committee's investigation headed by Elijah Cummings a Democrat from Maryland. Is of valley and an investigation. Its racially related to a legislative per S and obtaining those financial documents from Mazar she comes accounting firm. Is valid and if there's really really no legal argument Dow legal argument that. Trump can make two to stop it. It's serving Christine we were talking before the show that would. It makes this case so unique and potentially. And could succeed for house Democrats is that needs ours is a private company. So they're not able to invoke executive privilege they're not run by a trump appointee. To block these requests from Democrats their very much in name much tighter spot in terms of being compelled to do something. That's right and techniques it also a simpler case for the courts they're really only looking at that question of whether. Debt can media's pursuing a pal legislative purpose they're not weighing these more complex issues of executive privilege. That would come into play when you're talking about executive officials or former executive officials. When it comes to executive privilege. One area that the White House are certainly has a leg up is with their former White House counsel John McGann. Catherine folders you know McGann well Donna gam was that we should tell anybody remind everybody was is key figure in the Muller reports he was the guy who the president. Allegedly ordered to fire Bob Mahler several times the key player in that obstruction case. Other Democrats are hoping to make they would hear from a depressing cavern has drawn a line in the sand he's not to show up. And is invoking executive privilege over those conversations. That's gonna be a tougher fight for the White House prefer house Democrat is and to. Exact plane just you know to distinguish between the two that judiciary committee of course issued a subpoena for documents. Related into McGann in the and the special counsel's investigation and then separately. A subpoena for his testimony now with those documents the White House is saying look without a conversation about them but. Some of these documents we think may be covered by executive privilege haven't formally and that privilege over the documents but. There may a little bit of a different argument hasn't relates to his testimony they're saying look he was a close White House advisor. And close White House advisors according two a new office of legal council opinion M previous ones and other administrations. That close White House advisors their immune from congressional testimony may don't have to come in and speak the committee now of course. Chairman Nadler you can see right there he was talking to an empty chair that said is on again yeah Capitol Hill today exactly was supposed to be there today and of course now they're vowing to hold him in content. Of course and against lawyer as saying look this is a dispute between congress and the White House come up with an accommodation. And then we will of course you know be willing to aid to come in what ever. Agreement you come out in terror what's the president saying about all this is very pretty clear on the McGann front but. How has he been reacting to that case in federal district court Margaret was talking about over those financial documents as he. Vowing sensitive. I that judges were. Before the special counsel even starting his investigation and we were just having the FBI looking to our Russian investigation the president made it very clear that for him. The red lying. Is his business it's his company's it's his children into what he dated he's bored he became president. And doesn't want anyone going into that and the reason that their opening up this case again is because storing his longtime lawyer Michael Collins testimony on Capitol Hill. He suggested that the president may have been defrauding insurance companies. For many years. That he may have been inflating his Arafat's out and L and he also suggested there might be tax fraud of this all the kind of stopped. That Donald Trump doesn't want. Anyone going Mir but at the same time we saw this court ruling that ruled in favor of the Democrats and that is giving. I speaker Nancy Pelosi a little bit of time as she tries to convince. Some of the hard line Democrats to hold on impeachment showing. Pay the court might be working for us we may not have to go that far. Important point there to end on terror primary thanks so much back context and for your reporting big day today. On the investigations firmer tiered great to have you with us from Brookings Institution Catherine thank you from. Your reporting appreciate it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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