Judge denies Democrats’ request to speed up Trump tax return lawsuit

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Thursday rejected House Democrats’ effort to speed up their lawsuit over their request for President Trump’s federal tax returns.

“It may be appropriate to expedite this matter at some point, but not now,” Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, said in a seven-page memorandum. 

The House Ways and Means Committee last month filed a lawsuit to get a court to order the Treasury Department and IRS to comply with its requests and subpoenas for six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns.

{mosads}Earlier this month, the committee filed a motion for summary judgment, asking McFadden to direct the administration to provide it with the requested tax returns. And the committee asked McFadden to expedite the case.

The Trump administration opposed the committee’s motion to expedite, and urged McFadden to have its forthcoming motion to dismiss the case considered before any summary judgment motion by the committee. The administration’s motion to dismiss is expected to raise questions about whether the court has the authority to resolve the dispute.

McFadden gave several reasons for denying the committee’s motion to expedite, as well as denying the motion for summary judgment as premature but allowing it to refile at a later time.

“To be sure, this is no ordinary case, but the weighty constitutional issues and political ramifications it presents militate in favor of caution and deliberation, not haste,” McFadden said in his order. “And the Committee has not shown otherwise.”

The committee argued that time is of the essence in its lawsuit because the current Congress ends in January 2021. The administration said the committee’s concern about speed rings hollow because the panel took time before requesting Trump’s tax returns and before suing.

McFadden said that “the Court does not fault the Committee for its time and efforts negotiating with the Administration before suing, but it is not clear why only now the Committee asks for expedited consideration of this matter.”

McFadden said that the arguments that the administration plans to raise in its forthcoming motion to dismiss “seem unlikely to be so trivial as to justify a rush to the merits of the case.”

McFadden also noted that there are two other cases before appeals courts in D.C. and New York that involve disputes over the House’s requests for Trump’s financial information. 

“That related issues are percolating in other courts, particularly before the D.C. Circuit, suggests that a rush to judgment here would be unwise,” he wrote. “Indeed, by first addressing the preliminary questions, the Court—and the parties—may benefit from guidance from the Circuit about issues-in-common with the matters on appeal.”

Additionally, McFadden said the deadline for the administration to respond to the committee’s complaint hasn’t passed yet, there is a dispute over whether the case will need discovery before summary judgment is considered, and it’s not yet clear whether all the appropriate parties have joined the case.

“The Committee has not justified its request to bypass the motion to dismiss stage and skip ahead to summary judgment,” McFadden wrote. “Indeed, by the time summary judgment is appropriate, this case might look very different. There may be new caselaw, new facts, and new parties.” 

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