Court fights over Trump tax returns ramp up

Court cases over President Trump’s tax returns and financial records have seen a flurry of activity in recent weeks.

Lawsuits are pending in federal courts in a host of disputes concerning Democrats’ efforts to obtain information about the president’s finances.

Some of the lawsuits involve efforts by Democratic-led House committees to get their hands on Trump’s financial information. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday said she’s directed the committees to proceed with their investigations under the “umbrella of impeachment inquiry.”

Here’s where the various lawsuits over Trump’s tax returns and financial records currently stand:


House Democrats’ lawsuit over their request for Trump’s federal tax returns

One of the cases getting the most attention is the House Ways and Means Committee’s lawsuit aimed at obtaining Trump’s tax returns.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) sent requests and subpoenas to the Treasury Department and IRS earlier this year for six years of Trump’s federal tax returns, but the administration rejected those efforts. In July, the committee filed a lawsuit, asking a judge to order the administration to comply with the requests and subpoenas.

{mosads}The parties in the case are currently arguing over whether the House lawsuit should be dismissed.

Lawyers representing the administration and Trump argue that the lawsuit should be dismissed, saying the committee can’t force courts to take a side in their dispute with the administration over a demand for information. But the Ways and Means Committee disagrees, arguing that the court should reject the administration’s “radical view of Congressional authority.”

The administration has until Monday to respond to the committee’s filing. The judge handling the case is Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee in federal court in D.C.

It is unclear how House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry could affect the lawsuit. When Neal was asked Friday if the committee was planning to file additional documents in the lawsuit in light of the impeachment inquiry, he said his lawyers were reviewing the matter.

Neal was also asked about whether he planned to release a complaint, referenced in court documents, from a federal employee who provided the committee with what it called credible allegations of possible inappropriate efforts to influence the IRS’s program for mandatory audits of presidents. The chairman said that a decision is “subject to what counsel advises.”

The lawsuit could take some time to reach a final resolution, particularly if the Supreme Court eventually decides to take it up.


Trump’s challenge to House Democrats’ subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Capital One

The House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees have issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Capital One for financial records, including tax returns, of Trump, his three oldest children and his businesses. Trump is pursuing a legal challenge to the subpoenas, which is currently before a federal appeals court in New York. 

A federal district court ruled in favor of the House committees in May. Trump then appealed the ruling, and the parties in the lawsuit agreed that the subpoenas won’t be enforced while the appeals court considers the case.

At oral arguments in August, the appeals court judges asked the banks whether they had tax returns responsive to the subpoenas. Deutsche Bank later said it had relevant tax returns, but redacted the names of the taxpayers whose returns it has. Capital One said it did not have any relevant tax returns.

A group of news outlets — including the Associated Press, CNN, and the New York Times — have filed a motion to unseal the names of the taxpayers whose tax returns Deutsche Bank has. 

Deutsche Bank and Trump filed separate documents on Friday opposing the news organizations’ motion. In Deutsche Bank’s court filing, the bank revealed that it has tax returns for two individuals, not business entities, named in the subpoenas.

Several legal experts have said that House Democrats might be able to get Trump’s tax returns more quickly from Deutsche Bank than from the IRS, since the Deutsche Bank case is farther along.


Trump’s challenge to House Democrats’ subpoenas of his accounting firm

Another case that’s before a federal appeals court is Trump’s challenge to the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s subpoena to his accounting firm, Mazars USA. 

The Oversight Committee is seeking Trump’s financial records from Mazars but did not explicitly request tax returns.

The federal appeals court for the D.C. circuit heard oral arguments in the case in July, after a district court judge sided with the Oversight Committee. The appeals court has yet to issue its ruling.

The Oversight Committee has agreed to suspend the requirement for Mazars to provide the panel with the subpoenaed documents while the appeals court is considering the case.


Trump’s challenge to New York prosecutors’ subpoena of his accounting firm

The newest lawsuit over Trump’s tax returns is the president’s challenge to the Manhattan district attorney’s office’s subpoena of Mazars. The district attorney’s office is seeking Trump’s tax returns and other financial records from the accounting firm as part of a grand-jury investigation.

Trump wants a judge to temporarily enjoin Mazars from complying with the subpoena while the case is adjudicated. The district attorney’s office wants Trump’s case to be dismissed.

The district attorney’s office said in a court filing Thursday that the parties in the case have reached a temporary arrangement under which the district attorney’s office won’t enforce the subpoena until either 1 p.m. two business days after the judge rules on pending motions or 1 p.m. on Oct. 7, whichever comes first.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicated that it may want to participate in the case. The judge in the case — Victor Marrero, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton — has given DOJ until Monday to tell the court whether it plans to participate, and until Wednesday to file a brief.


Trump’s challenge to New York’s tax return law

The parties in the lawsuit over New York’s tax return law are currently awaiting a judge’s ruling about whether the case belongs in federal court in D.C.

New York enacted a law in July that allows the chairs of Congress’s tax committees to request public officials’ state tax returns from the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance. Soon after the measure was signed into law, Trump filed a lawsuit in federal court in D.C. in an effort to prevent House Democrats from obtaining his New York tax returns. The defendants in the current version of the lawsuit include the Ways and Means Committee, Neal and New York officials.

The New York officials have filed a motion arguing that the case doesn’t belong in D.C. and should either be dismissed or moved to federal court in New York. Trump’s lawyers disagree.

The judge assigned to the case is Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee who was confirmed by the Senate in May. It’s unclear exactly when Nichols will issue a ruling on the New York officials’ motion.

If Nichols doesn’t dismiss the case when ruling on the New York officials’ motion, the House defendants are expected to file their own motion to dismiss the case that argues that the Ways and Means Committee’s ability to utilize the New York law is protected from legal challenges under the Constitution’s speech or debate clause. The deadline for the House to file their motion is Oct. 21.

Neal hasn’t requested Trump’s New York state tax returns and may not end up doing so.


Challenges to California’s tax return law

Trump has scored an early win in his legal challenge to California’s law that prevents presidential candidates from appearing on the state’s primary ballot unless they disclose their tax returns.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed over the California law, including by Trump and the Republican National Committee. 

Earlier this month, Judge Morrison England Jr., a George W. Bush appointee on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, heard consolidated arguments in five related lawsuits and tentatively granted a preliminary injunction. The judge is scheduled to file a written order by Oct. 1. 

The ruling is expected to be appealed.

Tags Bill Clinton Donald Trump Nancy Pelosi Richard Neal

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