Judge Dismisses Trump Suit Seeking to Stop Congress From Seeing His Taxes

The court said the Treasury Department can provide the former president’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. But the judge stayed the ruling to allow time for an appeal.,


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WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by Donald J. Trump that sought to block Congress from obtaining his tax returns, ruling that the law gives a House committee chairman broad authority to request them despite Mr. Trump’s status as a former president.

In a 45-page opinion, Judge Trevor N. McFadden of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, held that the Treasury Department can provide the tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, which can publish them. Judge McFadden, however, stayed his ruling for 10 days to give Mr. Trump time to file an appeal, which he is very likely to do.

Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, first requested copies of Mr. Trump’s tax returns in early 2019, after Democrats took over the House. A federal law gives the chairman of that panel broad authority to request any person’s tax returns.

The Trump administration refused to comply, however, and the House eventually filed a lawsuit. After Mr. Trump left office this year, Mr. Neal issued a fresh request for the ex-president’s tax returns and the Biden administration issued a Justice Department memorandum saying he was entitled to receive them.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers, however, sought an injunction to block the request, saying that it served no legitimate purpose and the real motive was to expose Mr. Trump’s taxes for political gain. Lawyers for the House said that there were legislative reasons for seeking them, including studying whether changes are needed to a rule requiring audits of presidents.

“Even if the former president is right on the facts, he is wrong on the law,” wrote Judge McFadden. “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.”

Judge McFadden was appointed by Mr. Trump in 2017.

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