Posted On 23 May 2019
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May 22, 2019, 11:00 PM UTC / Updated May 23, 2019, 1:39 PM UTC
By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Alex Moe
WASHINGTON — A key congressional committee has already gained access to President Donald Trump’s dealings with two major financial institutions, two sources familiar with the House probe tell NBC News, as a court ruling Wednesday promised to open the door for even more records to be handed over.
Wells Fargo and TD Bank are the two of nine institutions that have so far complied with subpoenas issued by the House Financial Services Committee demanding information about their dealings with the Trump Organization, according to the sources. The disclosures by these two banks haven’t been previously reported. Both TD Bank and Wells Fargo declined to comment for this story.
Wells Fargo provided the committee with a few thousand documents and TD Bank handed the committee a handful of documents, according to a source who has seen them. The committee, led by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., is especially interested in the president’s business relationship with Russia and other foreign entities.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Hardball” Wednesday, Waters said “we don’t have information to share with you at this time about what we’ve learned from the documents.”
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that two other banks — Deutsche Bank and Capital One — can hand over financial documents related to their dealings Trump and his businesses to Congress. The Trump family had sued to prevent those two banks from complying with the congressional subpoena and the ruling paves the way for the committee to now have access to years of financial records from at least four financial institutions.
The documents that have been provided so far are a fraction of those requested by Waters, whose committee has also sent subpoenas to Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase. The Royal Bank of Canada is in the process of complying with the subpoena, according to a source. The other banks have missed the subpoena deadline of May 6.
The development comes as House Democrats are internally debating whether to move forward with launching an impeachment inquiry of the president or not.
Deutsche Bank has been the Trump Organization’s biggest lender, financing more than $2 billion in loans to the president during his business career, and he still owes the bank at least $130 million, according to Trump’s latest financial disclosures.
The subpoenas, details of which have not been released to the public, are predicated on the notion that Congress has access to the information under the Bank Secrecy Act, which allows Congress access to financial information to search for money laundering, according to a person who has seen them.
“The potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern,” Waters said in April when she issued the subpoenas. “The Financial Services Committee is exploring these matters, including as they may involve the President and his associates, as thoroughly as possible pursuant to its oversight authority, and will follow the facts wherever they may lead us.”
The office of the committee’s ranking member, Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., did not respond to requests for comment.
The Waters probe is just one of numerous confrontations between House Democrats and the president over his financial information.
The receipt of documents suggests progress for House Democrats who have often been frustrated in their efforts to, in some cases, conduct oversight but they have had progress in recent days. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta this week said that Congress has the legal authority to request information from the president’s personal accounting firm Mazars USA.
An NBC News analysis finds that at least 14 different Democratic-led House committees are investigating various aspects of Trump and his presidency, with 50 different inquiries that are seeking documents from the executive branch or outside entities.
Much of the focus for House Democrats has been on efforts across multiple committees to gain access to an unredacted version of the Mueller report, which the Justice Department recently moved to block after Trump asserted executive privilege.
While lawmakers have been stymied in obtaining additional documentation that could be central to an obstruction of justice case against the president or members of his administration, accessing bank records could provide new momentum for an investigation centered around questions of whether foreign individuals or governments hold financial leverage over the president, his family or his businesses.
CORRECTION (May 23, 2019, 9:35 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misstated the list of financial institutions that have received a subpoena from the House Financial Services Committee. Bank of America should have been included on that list.
CORRECTION (May 23, 2019, 10 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misspelled the first name of a federal judge. He is Amit Mehta, not Ahmit. It also misspelled the name of one of the banks mentioned. It is Capital One, not Capitol One.