House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has requested ten years of documents related to President Donald Trump’s past financial dealings, his committee spokesman confirmed.
The request comes after testimony from Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, raised questions as to whether Trump inflated or deflated the value of his financial assets during the course of past business transactions. Cummings, in a letter to Mazars USA LLP, a tax and accounting firm, requested documents related to Trump and the Trump Organization that were used in a failed attempt by the president to purchase the Buffalo Bills NFL franchise in the years prior to his presidential campaign.
“Mr. Cohen produced to the Committee financial statements from 2011, 2012, and 2013 that raise questions about the President’s representations of his financial affairs on these forms and on other disclosures, particularly relating to the President’s debts,” the letter, dated March 20, reads. “Several of these documents appear to have been signed by your firm.”
The request by Cummings ratchets up an already tense battle among Democrats and Trump-allied Republicans over the former’s eagerness to gain a fuller view into the president’s finances. Before the Cummings letter was even made public, two GOP members of the House Oversight Committee put out a letter of their own, criticizing the very nature of the request.
“We should not waste our limited resources and energies on matters that do not improve the operations of the federal government or better the lives of our constituents,” Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-S.C.) wrote. The two members went on to call the letter to Mazars “an ill-conceived inquiry into the finances of President Trump when he was a private citizen.”
Cummings brushed off the criticism in a statement of his own, accusing Republicans of skirting basic oversight.
“I suppose it is no longer a surprise that Republicans on the Oversight Committee are now opposed to oversight itself—especially since a Republican entered the White House,” he said. “If they had their way, the Committee would just close up shop for the next two years, but that is not what the American people elected us to do. We are following-up on specific allegations regarding the President’s actions based on corroborating documents obtained by the Committee, and we will continue our efforts to conduct credible, robust, and independent oversight.”
The Trump White House did not immediately return request for comment.
During his testimony before the Oversight Committee, Cohen revealed that between 2011 and 2013, he gave Trump’s financial statements to Deutsche Bank in hopes of acquiring a loan to purchase the Bills franchise. The documents, according to Cohen, showed that Trump had increased his net worth from $4.56 billion in 2012 to $8.66 billion in 2013, much of it based on the addition of “brand value.” Cohen said that Trump would inflate his total assets in order to obtain more favorable treatment from banks (in addition to deflating his assets in order to reduce his tax burden).
The attempted purchase of the Bills did not happen.
In his letter to Mazars, Cummings requested “all statements of financial condition, annual statements, periodic financial reports and independent auditors’ reports.” He also asked for “all engagement agreements or contracts related to the preparation, compilation, review, or auditing of the items” used to determine Trump’s net worth—specific, it appears, to his use of brand value to inflate that net worth. Cummings listed the time period of the documents he requested as being from January 1, 2009 to present day.