Trump lawyers push judge to throw out Democrats’ tax return suit

Trump administration lawyers asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit by House Democrats demanding the Treasury Department turn over President Donald Trump’s tax returns for the past six years.

Trump broke with four decades of tradition in refusing to release his tax information during the 2016 election.

The administration claims the Committee on Ways and Means — controlled by Democrats — is improperly attempting to enlist the judiciary in its fight with the Executive Branch.

President Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House
President Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House

The proper way for Congress to act would be to declare the administration non-compliant with the subpoena and refer the matter to federal prosecutors, the Justice Department lawyers said.

The dismissal request is the latest volley in a legal war between House Democrats and the president over his tax, banking and business records. Trump has filed a pair of lawsuits seeking to squelch other House subpoenas seeking his banking and business records.

After losing initial trial court-level challenges, the president’s personal attorneys have argued for reversal of those decisions at federal appeals courts in Washington and New York.

The committee sued Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in July after Mnuchin rejected Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal’s request for the records, calling it a pretext for a political attack. Neal, of Massachusetts, had previously said his panel needs the records to see whether the IRS is following its practice of auditing the president annually.

The fight could stretch on for several more months, perhaps lasting beyond the 2020 presidential election.

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).

— Andrew Harris and Laura Davison
Bloomberg News