Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Attempt To Shield Tax Returns

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by former President Donald Trump to prevent the release of his tax returns to House Democrats.

“Former President Donald J. Trump sues to keep the Treasury from giving his tax returns to the House Committee on Ways and Means, which can publish them,” U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden wrote in a 45-page opinion. “But even if the former President is right on the facts, he is wrong on the law. A long line of Supreme Court cases requires great deference to facially valid congressional inquiries. Even the special solicitude accorded former Presidents does not alter the outcome.”

“The Court will therefore dismiss this case,” McFadden concluded.

The ruling includes a 14-day stay while both sides in the case discuss next steps, including giving the Trump camp time to file an appeal.

The House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), has been seeking Trump’s tax returns since 2019 after the former president broke longstanding precedent and refused to release them, saying Internal Revenue Service audits had prevented him from doing so. The IRS automatically audits presidents while in office but had long said the process doesn’t bar a president from releasing the returns.

But the Treasury Department under Trump refused to do so despite Neal’s request, prompting years of lawsuits.

This year, however, the Justice Department under President Joe Biden said the returns “must” be handed over, adding that House lawmakers had provided “sufficient reasons” for requesting them.

“This ruling is no surprise, the law is clearly on the Committee’s side,” Neal said in a statement after the ruling. “I am pleased that we’re now one step closer to being able to conduct more thorough oversight of the IRS’s mandatory presidential audit program.”

McFadden agreed, saying Supreme Court precedent says Congress must solely have a “valid legislative purpose” for demanding the returns, but it doesn’t need to be “the only purpose.”

“Anyone can see that publishing confidential tax information of a political rival is the type of move that will return to plague the inventor,” McFadden wrote on Tuesday. “It might not be right or wise to publish the returns, but it is the Chairman’s right to do so. Congress has granted him this extraordinary power, and courts are loath to second guess congressional motives or duly enacted statutes.”

Trump also sought to block the release of the returns as part of an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Those were turned over earlier this year, as well.

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