Donald Trump’s stonewalling White House is mounting a multi-front assault on accountability, testing the notion that a president must answer to citizens for whom he holds a public trust.
Trump’s newest legal battle, to stop the release of business records from his accounting firm, effectively involves an effort by the executive branch of government to thwart constitutionally protected oversight.
The committee wants the records to investigate claims by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen that his former boss used financial statements either to inflate the price of business assets to get loans or downplayed property values in insurance schemes.Trump Organization counsel Alan Garten called the subpoena “an unprecedented overreach of congressional authority.”
But the challenge by Trump and his sons, who now run the business, shows no recognition that when someone assumes a public trust, such as the presidency, they also face standards of transparency they would not face in public life.
In sending his lawyers into action, the President is again activating the kind of litigating reflex which he often indulged as a tycoon when he was party to thousands of lawsuits.
But his chances of thwarting the House committee may be slim since his attorneys are relying on a precedent from the 1880s that was superseded by a decision in 1927.