Former President Donald Trump‘s lawyers told a federal court Wednesday to block the Treasury Department from giving his tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, arguing lawmakers are wading into uncharted territory in a bid to embarrass the ex-president.
Lawyers said the request from Democratic committee Chairman Richard Neal “bore little resemblance to an effort to investigate how the IRS audits presidents.”
“It asked for the information of only one president, asked for open files for which audits have not been completed, and never asked the IRS for the most relevant information — namely, how it audits presidents,” they told a federal judge.
They also argued that House lawmakers had no power to investigate individual citizens and demand their records.
The legal fight comes after the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel said Treasury officials must hand over Mr. Trump‘s tax records first requested by the Ways and Means Committee in 2019, citing a federal law that says the secretary “shall” furnish them if requested by the panel.
The decision overturned a previous conclusion by the legal counsel during the Trump era that the president could shield his financial records from congressional overseers.
Mr. Neal, Massachusetts Democrat, has said lawmakers want to explore how the IRS audits presidents but Mr. Trump believes his political foes wanted to pore over them for something unflattering.
Mr. Trump broke with decades of precedent and repeatedly refused to release his tax returns to the public, fueling suspicions there is something suspect in his finances.