Trump lawyer asks judge to block release of tax returns to U.S. House panel

By Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Donald Trump’s lawyers on Tuesday urged a judge to block a House of Representatives panel from getting the former U.S. president’s tax returns, calling it an invasive and politically motivated request.

Trump was the first president in 40 years not to release his tax returns as he aimed to keep secret the details of his wealth and activities of his family company, the Trump Organization.

The House Ways and Means Committee sued in 2019 to force disclosure of the tax returns, and the dispute lingers nearly 10 months after Trump left office.

Trump lawyer Patrick Strawbridge told U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden the committee has no legitimate reason to see the tax returns, and asked for them in hopes of learning information that will hurt Trump politically.

McFadden said that Democratic Representative Richard Neal, the committee’s chairman, and other Democratic lawmakers have made contradictory statements about why they want Trump’s tax returns.

Some of the public statements suggest the committee wants Trump’s tax returns to consider legislation, which is a valid reason, McFadden said. Other public statements, he added, “could certainly be taken to suggest there’s something else going on.”

McFadden also said he was reluctant to second-guess Neal’s motivations, signaling he may allow the case to move forward. The judge said he will issue a written decision within three weeks on whether the lawsuit should progress.

The case has moved slowly, partly because the U.S. Justice Department has reversed positions.

In 2019, under Trump, it said the request for his taxes by the committee was based on a “disingenuous” objective.

Six months after President Joe Biden took office, it released a memo saying the House panel had offered “sufficient reasons” for the request.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled against Trump in an unrelated case on whether a Manhattan prosecutor could see Trump’s tax returns as part of a criminal investigation of his business.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Scott Malone, Howard Goller and Dan Grebler)

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