U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden’s ruled that the House Ways and Means Committee has the authority to request the returns, regardless of Trump’s former president standing, and that the committee could vote to publish them.
“Even if the former president is right on the facts, he is wrong on the law,” McFadden wrote. “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.”
McFadden put the ruling on hold for 10 days to allow Trump time to appeal.
In early 2019, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal first requested Trump’s tax returns under a Federal law that requires the Treasury Department and the IRS to turn over individual tax returns when requested by the chairman of the committee. The Trump Administration refused to do so, and the House filed a lawsuit.
Neal renewed the request this year, asking for the former president’s tax returns from 2015 through 2020, saying the committee wanted the returns to study the effectiveness of the presidential audit program. The Treasury Department, along with the Justice Department backing it, agreed that Trump’s returns should be given to Congress.
Trump’s lawyers sued to block the request, arguing that Congress had no legitimate purpose to seek the returns and that it was doing so for political gain.
On Tuesday, McFadden rejected Trump’s claim. “Congress may not expose someone simply ‘for the sake of exposure,'” McFadden wrote.
“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, who was appointed to the bench by Trump, concluded. “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. The Court will therefore dismiss this case.”