President Donald Trump sued to block Deutsche Bank and Capital One Financial from complying with congressional subpoenas targeting his bank records, escalating the president’s showdown with Democratic policymakers investigating his finances.
The legal manoeuvre follows reports from last week that the German bank had started the process of giving documents related to loans made to Mr Trump and his businesses to the New York state attorney general, who is conducting her own probe.
“The subpoenas were issued to harass President Donald J Trump, to rummage through every aspect of his personal finances, his businesses, and the private information of the president and his family, and to ferret about for any material that might be used to cause him political damage,” Mr Trump’s lawyers wrote in the introduction to the 13-page complaint filed Monday in Manhattan federal court.
Joining Mr Trump as plaintiffs were his eldest children, Donald Jr, Eric and Ivanka Trump, as well as the Trump Organisation, the Donald J Trump Revocable Trust and other entities affiliated with the president’s family.
The complaint is very similar to one Mr Trump filed last week in Washington to block Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, from getting records held by Mr Trump’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA.
The suit last week seeks to block a subpoena issued by the Democratic chairman of the US House Oversight Committee for information about Mr Trump's personal and business finances, alleging Democrats have launched "all-out political war" on Mr Trump with subpoenas as their "weapon of choice".
The committee's subpoena sought eight years of documents from Mazars USA related to its investigation of allegations Mr Trump inflated or deflated financial statements for potentially improper purposes.
Elijah Cummings, the House Oversight Committee chairman, issued the subpoena to the president's accountant after Mr Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified to Congress in February that Mr Trump had misrepresented his net worth.
"Chairman Cummings' subpoena is invalid and unenforceable because it has no legitimate legislative purpose," Mr Trump's lawyers said in a filing, arguing it exceeded constitutional limits on the power of Congress to investigate.
"Its goal is to expose plaintiffs’ private financial information for the sake of exposure, with the hope that it will turn up something that Democrats can use as a political tool against the president now and in the 2020 election," they said.
In a statement last Monday, Mr Cummings said there was no valid legal basis to try to block the subpoena and accused the White House of "unprecedented stonewalling" in refusing to produce a single document or witness to the committee.
"This complaint reads more like political talking points than a reasoned legal brief, and it contains a litany of inaccurate information," Mr Cummings said at the time.