Today, the RNLA sent a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Commings and Republican Ranking Member Jim Jordan urging the committee to halt efforts to subpoena President Donald Trump’s confidential financial records from his accountants. The full letter can be viewed here.
As attorneys, we take legal and ethical obligations seriously, including those of client confidentiality and privilege. While lawyers’ and accountants’ ethical duties are not identical, neither can breach their clients’ trust in response to inquiries for political gain of the opposing party of their client. The Code of Professional Conduct of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the largest member association representing the accounting profession, states: “A member in public practice shall not disclose any confidential client information without the specific consent of the client.” (Section 1.700.001.01) Federal and New York laws also prohibit breaches of confidentiality, particularly regarding sensitive taxpayer information.
There are exceptions to the ethical rules for a valid subpoena but the validity of the subpoena in this case is another issue that concerns us. As an organization of lawyers, we are concerned with protecting the First Amendment freedoms. In this context, protecting First Amendment freedoms involves preventing Congress from abusing its powers to harass its political opponents.
The Committee on Oversight and Reform majority has not cited a valid reason for subpoenaing confidential and privileged records from the President’s accountant, Mazars USA LLP, but instead relies on opinion-laden “news reports” from sources such as Rachel Maddow and the testimony of admitted perjurer Michael Cohen for supporting its politically motivated subpoena. We find this very troubling both for the present and future.
This subpoena is not a legitimate tool of oversight of the Executive Branch but instead an effort to investigate actions taken by a private citizen due to his subsequent political positions and activity....