Trump Sues House Panel, New York to Protect Tax Returns

Cheryl Sanders
July 24, 2019

President Trump sued House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, Democrat of MA, and New York State officials Tuesday to block any release of his state tax returns to House Democrats under a state law passed this month.

Trump asked the court to block Neal's committee and New York's attorney general and tax commissioner from exercising the law, arguing that House lawmakers have "no legitimate legislative purpose" to seek the state returns since the committees jurisdiction is limited to federal taxes.

US President Donald Trump's lawyers argued that a law passed by NY state earlier this month that would give the House Ways and Means Committee access to the president's state tax returns violates his constitutional rights.

This is the latest legal front on which Trump is battling House Democrats.

A lawyer for Trump, Jay Sekulow, called the effort to obtain Trump's state tax returns "presidential harassment" and accused the House committee and NY state officials of seeking "political retribution" against Trump.

Trump counsel Jay Sekulow said the lawsuit is part of ongoing efforts "to end presidential harassment, " calling the actions of the House and NY officials "nothing more than political retribution". "And New York could respond to the request almost instantaneously, mooting the President's ability to object before his tax records are disclosed".

'And New York could respond to the request almost instantaneously, mooting the President's ability to object before his tax records are disclosed'.

When Neal demanded six years of Trump's tax returns from the IRS, he justified it by saying he sought to determine 'the extent to which the IRS audits and enforces the Federal tax laws against a President'.

Neal has expressed caution about using the NY law to obtain Trump's state returns, saying it could harm efforts to get the president's federal returns through the lawsuit. Trump has defied a decades-old tradition of presidents voluntarily releasing their tax filings.

"As revealed by its text, history, effect, and stated purposes, the New York Legislature enacted it to discriminate and retaliate against President Trump for his speech and politics", the lawsuit states.

A federal law empowers the committee's chairman to look at any taxpayer's returns, but legal analysts have said such a request must be in the context of a 'legitimate legislative goal'. "Voters heard the criticisms from Secretary Clinton, and they elected President Trump anyway".

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the Democrats are motivated exclusively by 'exposure of a political opponent's private tax information'.

In two other court cases, Trump has tried to block the House Intelligence Committee, the House Oversight Committee and the House Financial Services Committee from obtaining his financial records from Capital One bank, Deutsche Bank and the accounting firm Mazars USA. After several follow-up letters, the Treasury Department formally denied the request and Neal issued subpoenas to the IRS and Treasury Department on May 10.

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