A federal judge's 'tell' in his order forcing Trump to turn over financial records to House committee
The political zealotry of the federal judge who ordered ten years' worth of Donald Trump's financial records turned over to the House Oversight and Reform Committee chaired by Elijah Cummings has been revealed with a highly unusual provision of his order. Jacqueline Thomsen of The Hill lays out the facts of the case:
In a 41-page opinion, Judge Amit Mehta, an Obama appointee, found that the panel, under the leadership of Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), had valid reasons for requesting the president's financial records from the accounting firm Mazars, even though they predated his entering office.
"These are facially valid legislative purposes, and it is not for the court to question whether the Committee's actions are truly motivated by political considerations," Mehta wrote.
Judge Mehta is not only an Obama appointee the federal bench, but an Obama donor:
Oh look, the Federal Judge who just ruled that President Trump must turn over his financial records to Congressional Dems, also just so happens to be an Obama-Biden donor. I'm sure one has nothing to do with the other though. Nothing to see here folks!https://t.co/LYncbOD45I pic.twitter.com/2EGAe5r0oc— Andrew Surabian (@Surabees) May 20, 2019
Judge Amit Mehta (official court photo).
The remedy for potential political bias in a federal judge's ruling consists of the appeals process, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and ultimately the Supreme Court able to reverse such a decision. But Judge Mehta's order forbids this.
Mehta also denied a request from Trump lawyer William Consovoy that he issue a stay on the ruling while they appeal the decision to a higher court, meaning that the House Democrats could quickly obtain the president's financial records if Mazars complies with the request before an appeals court potentially intervenes.
"The court is well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the President of the United States," Mehta wrote. "But on the question of whether to grant a stay pending appeal, the President is subject to the same legal standard as any other litigant that does not prevail."
The judge stated in his opinion that both parties of the lawsuit have agreed to a seven-day waiting period after any ruling before Mazars releases any documents. The president's attorneys have indicated that they will appeal any ruling not in their favor.
A stay of a ruling with irreversible consequences is standard operating procedure. In this case, once the records would be turned over before the appeals process could play out, any appeals reversal would be moot, since the records, once disclosed, cannot be made private and confidential once again. In effect, Judge Mehta has made himself the Supreme Court of the United States as far as litigant Donald Trump is concerned.
This is a "tell" — an unintentional indication that the judge is biased and willing to deny the right to appeal his decision in order to advance the political agenda of the House Democratic Caucus, as expressed through Representative Cummings's committee's subpoena.
I wonder how many Democrats have thought through the precedents being established here. Republican-led committees in the current Senate or a future House could, for instance, subpoena Nancy Pelosi's tax returns — or those of, for instance, George Soros or other major donors to progressive causes. Once personal tax returns are fair game for political fishing expeditions, all the statutory protections of privacy for taxes are out the window.
I expect an immediate appeal of the order to the D.C. Court of Appeals requesting an immediate stay while the appeals process plays out.