WASHINGTON – A key House committee is seeking 10 years of records from an accounting firm that Donald Trump used before he became president, apparently in hopes of finding out more details of his 2014 attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills
Two House Republicans, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, revealed the records request Wednesday in a letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings. Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which is seeking the Trump financial documents.
"Your inquiry seems to examine facts relating to a transaction that never materialized involving the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League," Jordan and Meadows wrote.
The two Republican congressmen said Cummings is seeking the Trump financial records from Mazars USA LLP, a global tax and accounting firm.
The lawmakers said the request stems from Trump financial statements that Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, filed with Cummings' committee a month ago. Those records, which Trump gave to Deutsche Bank several years ago, showed that he inflated his net worth by $4 billion when he was bidding for the Bills.
"It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes," Cohen told the committee in his testimony last month.
Jordan and Meadows weren't exactly pleased that Cummings wants to find out more about Trump's bid for the Bills. In their letter, they accused Cummings of seeking the Trump records "solely to embarrass President Trump and to advance the relentless Democrat attacks upon the Trump administration."
"We urge you to reconsider your ill-conceived inquiry into the finances of President Trump when he was a private citizen," Jordan and Meadows added.
Cummings said, though, that his committee was just doing its job – a job that Jordan and Meadows don't want done.
“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,” Cummings told Politico, which first reported the Oversight Committee's records request. “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.”
Cummings also told Politico that his committee is trying to corroborate the allegations that Cohen made when he testified.
“We’re just seeking the truth, that’s all," Cummings said.
Cummings asked for the Trump financial records in a March 20 letter to Victor Wahba, the chairman and chief executive officer of Mazars USA.
The records would cover a time period in which Trump was believed to be one of three serious bidders for the Bills, which were up for sale after the death of their founder, the late Ralph C. Wilson Jr.
Terry and Kim Pegula filed the winning bid – reported as $1.4 billion – and took possession of the Bills in September 2014. Rock star Jon Bon Jovi and his partners, two Toronto billionaires, bid $1.05 billion, and Trump told Sports Illustrated in 2015 that he bid $1 billion.
But the Toronto Sun reported this week that Trump never actually submitted a binding bid for the team. The Sun attributed that information to "three sources closely involved with the Bills sale process in unrelated capacities."
Trump told The Buffalo News in 2016 that he didn't make buying the Bills a top priority.
“I bid on that team half-heartedly because I really wanted to (run for president)," Trump said at the time. "I could not have (owned the team) and this, because it would have been too much.”