Trump-appointed judge to hear suit over president’s taxes

A judge appointed by Donald Trump has been assigned to a lawsuit by congressional Democrats seeking access to the president’s tax returns.

The House Ways and Means Committee sued the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday after they rejected its requests for the past six years of Trump’s personal and business returns. It was Congress’s latest effort to wield oversight over the executive branch. The Trump administration has rejected or ignored a number of subpoenas since Democrats took back the House in January.

The federal judge assigned to the case, Trevor McFadden in Washington, last month rejected a request by House Democrats for an order blocking the president’s plan to pay for construction of his southern U.S. border wall with about $6.1 billion Congress had allocated for other purposes, saying he lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. His ruling is being appealed.

U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden speaks during his investiture ceremony.
U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden speaks during his investiture ceremony.

McFadden, 41, is a former Fairfax County, Virginia, police officer and a graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois. He got his law degree from the University of Virginia in 2006 and clerked for a judge on the federal appeals court in St. Louis. He worked for the Justice Department and as a lawyer in private practice before taking the bench in October 2017.

The House lawsuit over the president’s tax returns claimed the administration had “mounted an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS, and the tax laws on behalf of the American people who participate in the nation’s voluntary tax system.”

The suit followed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s rejections of a written request and then a subpoena for the information. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal has sought the records since April, arguing that his committee needs them to see whether the IRS is following its practice of auditing the president annually.

The White House on Tuesday called the suit a “danger to democracy,” saying that “the only thing more political than the committee’s crusade for the president’s tax returns is its sham lawsuit.”

The case is Committee on Ways and Means v. U.S. Department of the Treasury, 19-cv-1974, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).