President Donald Trump’s biggest lender has told an appeals court it does not have in its possession Trump’s personal tax returns, according to a ruling released Thursday in a legal battle between Congress and the president.
The disclosure came in an order from the New York-based appeals court, which is considering whether Trump can block subpoenas from two House committees seeking years of his personal financial documents from Deutsche Bank and Capital One. The lawsuit, which preceded the House impeachment inquiry, is one of several the president has filed to try to block access to his business data.
A coalition of media organizations, including The Washington Post, had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to unseal a letter Deutsche Bank filed in response to the court’s questions at oral argument in August about whether the bank has Trump’s tax returns among others.
In its 12-page order Thursday, the three-judge panel rejected the media request to make public the full letter, finding that the redacted names are “not relevant” to the underlying legal issues in the case and that the letter itself is not a “judicial document” that would be “subject to the right of public access.”
As part of its investigation into foreign influences on the president, the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees have subpoenaed the two banks for years of financial documents – including tax returns – from the president, his three eldest children and the president’s companies.
A redacted version of the letter previously made public showed that Deutsche Bank did possess tax records responsive to Congress’ subpoena. But the redacted letter did not identify by name whose records it has.
The order from the court Thursday specifies that the bank does not have the president’s returns, but says, rather, that it has returns for two other individuals.
Deutsche Bank “reports that the only tax returns it has for individuals or entities named in the subpoenas are not those of the President,” according to the opinion from Judge Jon Newman, who was joined by Judges Peter Hall and Debra Ann Livingston.
“The identity of the two taxpayers whose tax returns Deutsche Bank has, is not relevant to any issue we need to decide,” the court added.
“The fact that Deutsche Bank has their tax returns adds nothing to the arguments of the parties in the pending appeal.”
Capital One had previously told the court it had no tax returns responsive to the congressional subpoenas.
A spokeswoman for House Democrats did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the disclosure.
Unlike past presidents, Trump has refused to release his tax returns and has sued to try to stop the banks and his accounting firm from complying with congressional subpoenas.
Trump is appealing in a separate case in New York, where a judge this week rejected the president’s effort to block the Manhattan district attorney from accessing Trump’s tax returns as part of an investigation into hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign.