US Judge Rejects Trump's Bid to Block Congress From Obtaining Tax Returns

© AP Photo / J. David Ake, FileThis April 13, 2014 file photo shows the headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in Washington.
This April 13, 2014 file photo shows the headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in Washington.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.12.2021
A federal judge in Washington, DC, has rejected an attempt by former US President Donald Trump to block Congress from obtaining his tax returns. The documents are sought by lawmakers wishing to investigate conflicts of interest during his four-year presidency, which ended in January.
US District Judge Judge Trevor McFadden has ruled that Trump was "wrong on the law" and that Congress is due "great deference" in its inquiries. However, he stayed his order by 14 days, giving Trump time to appeal - which he almost certainly will.

The House Ways and Means Committee has sought six years of tax returns from the real estate mogul-turned head of state, from 2014 until 2018, since it first filed the motion with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in April 2019. However, the Trump administration repeatedly blocked those attempts, saying the request lacked a "legitimate legislative purpose".

After US President Joe Biden, a Democrat, became president in January, congressional Democrats renewed their request. In July, the US Department of Justice ordered the Treasury to comply.
The Ways and Means Committee has requested six years of Trump's individual tax returns and tax returns of eight Trump-related businesses.

McFadden, a Trump appointee, wrote that Trump "marshals an array of evidence suggesting the committee's purported interest in the Presidential Audit Programme, an IRS policy that requires audits of the sitting president, is a subterfuge for improper motives - like exposing his returns. He also raises legal arguments against the statute on which the committee relies".

"But even if the former president is right on the facts, he is wrong on the law", the judge added. "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 the case".
However, fearful of the Democrats' ultimate intent, McFadden issued them a rhetorical warning, if not a legal one.

"If Chairman Neal's true interest in the former president's tax returns is indeed to better understand the Presidential Audit Programme, he will doubtless be able to accomplish this objective without publishing the returns. Public disclosure of another's tax returns is a grave offence", McFadden wrote, noting that prior committee chairmen have "wisely resisted" it.

"Anyone can see that publishing confidential tax information of a political rival is the type of move that will return to plague the investor. 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 statues. The court will not do so here and thus must dismiss the case".
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