Federal judge shoots down Trump lawyers in subpoena hearing — and warns ‘we’re not dragging this out’

Federal judge shoots down Trump lawyers in subpoena hearing — and warns ‘we’re not dragging this out’
President Donald J. Trump is introduced on stage Friday, April 26, 2019, at the National Rifle Association annual convention in Indianapolis, Ind. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

The legal team for President Donald Trump is not happy with a federal judge’s vow to move one of the president’s subpoena-related fights along as swiftly as possible.

On Monday, Judge Amit Mehta told Trump attorney William Consovoy that a hearing scheduled for Tuesday would go ahead as scheduled. And while Mehta noted that he would not be handing down a ruling on Tuesday, he was also firm in his assertion, “We’re not dragging this out.”

At issue in the hearing is Trump’s objection to the House Oversight Committee’s subpoena of Trump’s financial records from the firm Mazars USA. Trump’s legal team is arguing that the subpoena was strictly political, and the hearing was meant to address whether or not it serves as a legitimate legal purpose.

Mehta asked Consovoy if he believed Congress had a right to launch investigations of Watergate in the 1970s under President Richard Nixon or Whitewater in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton, and Consovoy told the judge, “I’d have to look at the basis.”

Mehta also asked Consovoy, “Say, for example, if a president had a financial interest in a particular piece of legislation that was being considered…. In your view, Congress could not investigate whether a president has a conflict of interest?” And Consovoy replied, “It would lack legitimate legislative purpose.”

The judge even delved into 19th Century legal history, citing the 1880 case Kilbourn v. Thompson. Mehta asked Consovoy if Kilbourn v. Thompson was, in fact, the last time Congress was found to have issued an unlawful subpoena—and Consovoy acknowledged that it was.

Trump has vowed to fight subpoenas issued by Democrat-led investigative committees in the House of Representatives.

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