President Trump, his family, and the Trump Organization, filed suit against one of their lenders and one of their banks late Monday, seeking to stop the financial firms from complying with subpoenas from congressional committees.
The lawsuit against Deutsche Bank, which has loaned Trump more than $360 million in recent years, and Capital One are designed to prevent the two institutions from providing records to the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees. The panels are led by Representatives Adam Schiff and Maxine Waters, respectively. Both are California Democrats.
The filing, submitted late Monday in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, claims that the subpoenas were issued to ‘‘harass’’ the president — ‘‘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.’’
‘‘No grounds exist to establish any purpose other than a political one,’’ the lawsuit asserts.
In a joint statement, Trump lawyers William Consovoy, Patrick Strawbridge, and Marc Mukasey called the subpoenas ‘‘unlawful and illegitimate.’’
‘‘Every citizen should be concerned about this sweeping, lawless, invasion of privacy,’’ they said. ‘‘We look forward to vindicating our clients’ rights in this matter.’’
Their clients, in this case, include not just the president but his three eldest children, and the business conglomerate that bears their name.
But legal experts predicted that the courts would be unwilling to stand in the way of congressional oversight. If nothing else, however, the lawsuit could delay the committees’ investigations into Trump’s finances and business dealings.
‘‘This isn’t a close legal question,’’ said David Alan Sklansky, a professor at Stanford Law School. ‘‘I’m quite confident there has never been a situation where a congressional subpoena has been quashed without a finding that it violates a constitutional right.’’
The claim that there is no legitimate need for the subpoena, or that it is politically motivated, is a ‘‘frivolous argument, even if it’s true,’’ he said. ‘‘That is not a basis for quashing a subpoena.’’
Nor is the claim that the inquest violates the privacy of the president or his family members, the law professor said.
Schiff and Waters, who issued the subpoenas two weeks ago, condemned the lawsuit in a joint statement, calling it a ploy to ‘‘put off meaningful accountability as long as possible.’’
‘‘The meritless lawsuit filed today by President Trump to block duly authorized subpoenas to nongovernmental entities is another demonstration of the depths to which President Trump will go to obstruct Congress’s constitutional oversight authority,’’ the Democrats said. ‘‘As a private businessman, Trump routinely used his well-known litigiousness and the threat of lawsuits to intimidate others, but he will find that Congress will not be deterred from carrying out its constitutional responsibilities.’’
They added, ‘‘This unprecedented stonewalling will not work, and the American people deserve better.’’
The lawsuit is the latest salvo by Trump in a deepening battle over congressional inquiries with aims ranging from obtaining the president’s personal and corporate tax returns to bringing Attorney General William P. Barr before the House Judiciary Committee.
The White House’s intransigence has led some House Democrats to look with new interest at the possibility of impeachment proceedings.
The suit claims that lawyers for the president and his associates requested copies of the subpoenas from committee officials, but that Democrats on Capitol Hill refused.
They instead learned the details of the requests from the banks, which informed the attorneys that they had intended to begin producing documents on May 6, according to the legal filing.
The congressional committees have also demanded documents from a handful of other financial institutions, such as JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup.
The requests are part of Democratic probes into possible Russian money-laundering.