Thursday 18 November 2021

Trump-appointed federal judge says Congress' bid to get his tax returns is driven by politics and asks DOJ what would happen if Republicans asked for Hunter Biden records

 A federal judge appeared to suggest asking for Donald Trump to turn over his tax returns to Congress is a partisan request – claiming if the House flips red they could request Hunter Biden's financial disclosures.

During a hearing on a long-running House Ways and Means Committee lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, questioned the panel's pursuit of obtaining Trump's personal records.

'If Congress changes hands in a couple years here and a Republican chairman of the Ways and Means Committee asks for Hunter Biden's tax returns, are we just going to say, 'Oh, sure. You know, we've got to defer to Congress. They've said they're interested in legislating on presidential families, therefore we've got to turn them over'? Is that going to be the administration's position?' McFadden proposed on Tuesday to a Justice Department lawyer.

Republicans have questioned Hunter Biden's financial information and business dealings over concerns there are conflicts of interest between his various positions when his father was vice president. 

Joe Biden's DOJ reversed its position this year to say that the committee does have the right to obtain the former president's tax returns.

Under U.S. law, the IRS must provide these reports to the Ways and Means Committee when requested. Trump's lawyers, however, in August sought to block the Biden administration from complying with the committee's request.

They argue there is no valid legislative purpose for the committee to obtain the tax returns, claiming they intend to use the documents as an attack on Trump.

'The requests are tailored to, and in practical operation will affect, only President Trump,' the filing reads. 'The requests single out President Trump because he is a Republican and a political opponent.'

Trump's lawyers filed a suit in August seeking to block Biden's Justice Department from complying with the Ways and Means Committee's request to obtain the former president's tax returns

Trump's lawyers filed a suit in August seeking to block Biden's Justice Department from complying with the Ways and Means Committee's request to obtain the former president's tax returns

It added: 'They were made to retaliate against President Trump because of his policy positions, his political beliefs, and his protected speech, including the positions he took during the 2016 and 2020 campaigns.'

McFadden said he is also concerned about intentions based on comments made by Democrats who want to obtain Trump's tax filings, including the Ways and Means Committee Chairman Representative Richard Neal of Massachusetts.

The comments, the judge says, suggest that 'there's something else going on' other than a legitimate legislative inquiry.

The House panel maintains the tax returns are important because Trump's 'actions and statements raised unprecedented and serious concerns about his tax compliance and foreign entanglements and about the IRS's ability to enforce the tax laws against him while President.''Compared to past Presidents,' the committee's lawyers said in a court filing in October, 'Mr. Trump's returns appear to be inordinately large and complex, reflecting his sprawling domestic and international business activities, which raises the question of whether the IRS has the requisite resources and authority to examine such returns as effectively as needed for a President.'

They added: 'And he repeatedly attacked the IRS and its audits of him both while a Presidential candidate and while President, which raised the important question of whether IRS employees are properly protected from a President's attempts to improperly influence its audits.'

As Trump's lawyers try to block his returns from being handed over, the former president is also claiming executive privilege to stop the House panel probing the January 6 Capitol riot from obtaining internal records from the White House.

A federal appeals court will hear oral arguments on November 30 for Trump's lawsuit seeking to block the committee from obtaining these documents.

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