The judge will, however, give Trump’s legal team 14 days to provide comment.
A federal judge has dismissed former President Donald Trump’s demand that Congress not be allowed to obtain his tax records.
According to CBS News, Judge Trevor McFadden threw out Trump’s lawsuit, finding that Congress may need the former president’s tax returns to carry out “facially valid inquiries.”
“A long line of Supreme Court cases requires great deference to facially valid congressional inquiries,” McFadden wrote. “Even the special solicitude accorded former Presidents does not alter the outcome. The Court will therefore dismiss this case.”
However, McFadden did put his ruling on hold for 14 days, so that Trump’s legal team has time to appeal or submit its comments.
NBC News notes that the lawsuit arises from a long-running congressional inquiry into Trump’s finances.
In April 2019, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) first asked for Trump’s returns, citing a federal law that requires the Internal Revenue Service to furnish individual tax returns when they are requested by any of the three congressional tax committees.
However, the U.S. Treasury Department refused to comply, saying that Congress had no “legitimate” legislative purpose in seeking Trump’s documents—rather, the Treasury said it believed that Democrats were simply trying to embarrass the President.
Earlier this year, though, Neal submitted a new request.
And with a Democrat now in the White House, the Treasury Department has done an about-face.
Now, both the Treasury and Justice Department have backed Neal, saying that Congress is entitled to receive Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Trump, in response, filed a lawsuit which reiterated his administration’s argument that Congress has no need to inspect his records.
But in his ruling, McFadden rejected the former president’s claim.
“Congress may not expose someone simply for the sake of exposure,” McFadden said, before opining that the committee’s desire to see how the IRS audits presidential tax returns could lead to Congress concluding that the process needs enhanced oversight.
McFadden batted away concerns about overtly political statements made by prominent Democrats—including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who said the public deserved to see Trump’s tax records—saying that the Legislature need not meet a high bar.
“The committee need only state a valid legislative purpose,” McFadden said. “It has done so.”
However, McFadden—a Trump appointee—did say that Congress has the option of surveying Trump’s tax records without making them public.
“It might not be right or wise to publish the returns, but it is the chairman’s right to do so,” McFadden said, warning that “publishing the confidential tax information of a political rival is the type of move that will return to plague the inventor.”