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Rep. Maxine Waters On The Supreme Court Rulings On Trump's Tax Records


Today the Supreme Court issued its final decisions for this term. Among them are rulings in a group of cases that stem from state and congressional efforts to subpoena President Trump's financial records. The high court ordered the cases sent back to the lower courts, all but guaranteeing that Trump's financial records will not be released until after the election. In one of the rulings, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the 7-2 majority, affirmed Congress's right to subpoena information for the purpose of writing legislation. But he said that power is limited and cannot be used for law enforcement efforts. Democrat Maxine Waters is chair of the House Financial Services Committee, and she joins us now. Welcome.

MAXINE WATERS: Thank you. Delighted to be with you.

CHANG: We're delighted to have you. Now, your committee has subpoenaed financial records from two banks as part of an investigation into money laundering and possible foreign influence in President Trump's election. Tell me, how do you respond to today's decision?

WATERS: Well, I tell you, I would have loved to have had a decision in our favor that absolutely supported our right to subpoena Deutsche Bank for the records of the president. We did not get that. But I am very pleased that they reaffirmed our right to be able to ask for those documents that we subpoenaed. And so we didn't get them, we didn't get the decision that we wanted today. But it has been remanded to the lower courts, and so they have given us, as someone described, a roadmap and told us how the lower courts should review why we're asking for these documents. And that review will determine whether or not we will get a decision in our favor or not for the subpoena of those documents, yes.

CHANG: Now, one piece of guidance that the Supreme Court did issue was that Congress should narrow the scope of its demand for documents, which originally included financial records from the president, his family and his businesses. Do you think the justices have a point there, that Democrats simply cast too wide of a net?

WATERS: Well, I think they're being careful. I think they were interested in ensuring that it was not political, that it really did have a legislative purpose.

CHANG: I'm sorry. You're talking about the justices were trying to be careful or Democrats were trying to be careful?

WATERS: Oh, the justices...


WATERS: ...Were trying to be careful. And as I, you know, recall, they did say that they wanted to ensure that it does have a legitimate legislative purpose and we were just not somehow using our power to, you know, get into the personal finances in order to try to embarrass, et cetera, et cetera. And so they made that decision. And that's a decision we live with. And we will continue. And we will follow the roadmap that they have given us because we think that we can absolutely show that it is a legitimate legislative purpose.

CHANG: Well, in the interests of following that roadmap, how do you intend to narrow the scope of your demands for records going forward? I mean, at this point, tell me - what do you most need access to among the president's financial records?

WATERS: Well, as you know, this all started out with us learning so much about Deutsche Bank and their relationship to the president. Not only are they the only bank in the world that would lend money to this president, all of the other banks have denied him because of his past actions. This president has not been honest. He has claimed assets that he does not have. He has, you know, embellished on his holdings, et cetera, et cetera. And they have - this bank has a great reputation for money laundering. And so his connection to them, the fact that they have, you know, a great reputation for money laundering, and he's still owing the bank over $300 million. It did increase our interest in how he's conducted himself and his financial background, et cetera. And so we think that, you know, we can stay with the main reason why we're subpoenaing those records without - and eliminate maybe some of what we had included in our subpoenas and basically be in compliance with the review.

CHANG: OK. Well, these decisions essentially guarantee that voters will not get to see what's in these financial records before the election. So I have to ask you, do you feel at some level that you have already lost in a way, even if you do eventually get the records you are asking for?

WATERS: No, I don't feel that way. And unfortunately, we don't have control over the timing of the court. We've been waiting a long time for the decision to come down. We would have loved to have had it earlier. However, they have decided. And still, I think that if this president is not reelected, he has a lot to answer to that has little to do perhaps with his having served as president but having to do with his relationship to Deutsche Bank and possible money laundering and some other issues that I think the American public still would be interested in. And maybe he will have to be judged by our courts in whether or not he has committed wrongdoing.

CHANG: So you do fully intend to continue pursuing these demands for records even if Donald Trump loses in November?

WATERS: Well, absolutely. We're committed to our mission. We have the oversight responsibility as the Financial Services Committee in Congress, and we will not walk away from this. We will continue to do our work. As I have said, we believe that there are issues involved, you know, related to money laundering...

CHANG: Right.

WATERS: ...And some other kinds of things that certainly this president would have to answer to whether or not he's still the president or not.

CHANG: OK. Maxine Waters, Democrat from California and chair of the House Financial Services Committee, thank you very much for joining us today.

WATERS: Well, you're so welcome. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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