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Trump ends where he began: fighting release of his tax returns

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s lawyers made a preemptive move to stop congressional Democrats from obtaining his tax returns once President-elect Joe Biden takes power, asking a judge for an Inauguration Day hearing in a case that could threaten the secrecy of this closely guarded financial information.

The Democrats’ request for Trump’s tax information from the Treasury Department will expire on Wednesday, but the new Congress could reissue it in the coming days. At the same time, Biden will take power, making it possible that the Justice Department could reverse its position in the case and simply hand over the records.

The lawyers requested a hearing on Wednesday before a Washington federal judge to discuss next steps in the litigation. They said they were hoping the judge would guarantee them at least 72 hours’ notice before the new administration hands over any documents to Congress, giving them a window to block the handover in court.

If the House got Trump’s tax information, Democrats could vote to release the material or a summary to all 435 members of the House, effectively making the information public.

The last-minute legal maneuvering stems from a case that began in 2019, the Democrat-controlled House Committee on Ways and Means sued to enforce its subpoenas for six years’ worth of Trump’s personal and business tax returns, after the Trump administration refused to turn over the information.

Trump’s lawyers said they contracted both the House committee and the Justice Department “in an attempt to resolve this issue.” The House declined to say whether it would renew its request for the tax returns, while the Justice Department said it was “not in a position at this time to speak for the incoming administration,” according to the Trump lawyers’ court filing.

Meanwhile, two other tax cases — involving the president’s accountants and bankers — reached the Supreme Court, which ruled that Congress could not compel the release of the financial records, at least for the time being. The cases were sent back to the lower courts to assess whether Congress should narrow the scope of the information it sought.

 

 

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