Trump-appointed judge says former president is 'wrong on the law' and rules Congress can obtain his tax returns

Trump-appointed judge says former president is 'wrong on the law' and rules Congress can obtain his tax returns
President Donald Trump.Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • The House Ways and Means Committee filed a lawsuit in 2019 to obtain then-President Trump's taxes.
  • Trump's attorneys argued the committee had no legitimate reason for seeking his tax returns.

Writing that former President Donald Trump was "wrong on the law," a federal judge on Tuesday ruled that the Treasury Department should not be prevented from handing over his tax returns to Congress.

Democrats have been seeking the returns since 2019, soon after they regained control of the House of Representatives, saying the returns could show conflicts of interests or tax evasion as well as reveal flaws in the IRS' auditing methods. Under Trump, the Treasury Department refused.

But that changed once President Joe Biden took office, with the department agreeing this past summer to comply with the request from the House Ways and Means Committee and hand over returns from 2015 to 2020.

Trump's attorneys had argued the request served no legitimate legislative purpose and that Congress cannot require a president "to disclose particular information or divest from certain businesses."

But in his 45-page ruling, US District Judge Trevor N. McFadden wrote that his court "cannot accept these conclusory legal statements as true." Indeed, "Everyone agrees that Congress can compel some information from the Executive."


McFadden was appointed by Trump in 2017 to the US District Court for the District of Columbia. McFadden had donated $1,000 to Trump's 2016 campaign, records show.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts, welcomed the court's decision.

"This ruling is no surprise, the law is clearly on the committee's side," Neal said in a statement Tuesday night. "I am pleased that we're now one step closer to being able to conduct more thorough oversight of the IRS's mandatory presidential audit program."

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