Lawyers for former President Donald Trump are urging a federal judge to block the Treasury Department and the IRS from giving his tax returns over to Congress and the House Ways and Means Committee.
The committee says they are seeking the documents to examine how the IRS audits presidents. However, Trump’s lawyers are arguing these methods have never been used against a president, a former president, or any elected official.
“While House Democrats had offered countless justifications for obtaining the president’s tax returns, no one at the time had ever mentioned a desire to find out how the IRS audits presidents,” they said.
Last week, the Justice Department said the Internal Revenue Service must hand over Trump’s tax returns to Congress.
Despite pressure from Democrats, the tax returns will likely not be in the hands of Congress yet and the filings by Trump’s team will only prolong that with what is sure to be several new rounds of legal arguments.
“The primary purpose of the requests is to obtain and expose Intervenors’ information for the sake of exposure, to improperly conduct law enforcement, or some other impermissible goal – not to study federal legislation,” Trump’s attorneys argue in the filing on Wednesday. “Chairman Neal’s requests have always been a transparent effort by one political party to harass an official from the other party because they dislike his politics and speech.”
Trump was the first president in 40 years to not release his tax returns, citing an ongoing audit when he was asked to produce his returns. When he ran for re-election in 2020, he again promised to release his returns following an audit but never produced on those.
Several critics accused Trump when he was in office of using the Justice Department to advance his personal and political interests. The Biden DOJ has sought to return to normalcy and reverse course from the stance it took when Trump was in office.