February 26, 2024

Former U.S. President Donald Trump watches during a press conference announcing a class action lawsuit against major tech companies at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on July 7, 2021 in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump’s attorneys on Wednesday asked a federal judge to block an order from the Justice Department for the IRS to forward years of its income tax returns to Congress.

Trump’s lawyers argued that the House Ways and Means Committee is only collecting the returns as a search for embarrassing information.

The attorneys filed for an injunction prohibiting the IRS from completing the committee’s request for Trump’s tax returns.

The expected move came almost a week after the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel revised its 2019 statement, saying the returns must be disclosed to the Democrat-led committee that had been searching for the documents for several years.

The OLC said that Ways and Means, like other congressional tax committees, has a “broad right” to obtain taxpayer information from the Treasury Department, the IRS’s parent company.

The OLC also said there was a legitimate legislative purpose in this particular case: to assess how the IRS reviews the president’s tax returns.

Trump’s attorneys argued in their new filing with the US District Court in Washington, DC that the reasoning was a pretext.

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“While House Democrats cited myriad justifications for getting the president’s tax returns, no one at the time mentioned a desire to find out how the IRS audited the president,” the file reads.

“That [committee] The chairman’s request bore little resemblance to an attempt to investigate how the IRS examines the president, ”the filing stated.

“It only requested a president’s information, requested open files that had not been audited, and never asked the IRS for the most important information – namely, how it audits presidents.”

The file said the judge should rule that the restitution requests, filed separately in 2019 and 2021, are “unlawful and unenforceable because they have no legitimate legislative purpose, exceed legal authority, and violate the First Amendment , violate due process and “/ or violate the separation of powers.”

Trump broke decades of precedent as a candidate and president by refusing to disclose his income tax returns.

Trump was president when the DOJ first appealed to the Ways and Means Committee to oppose the publication of its tax returns.

The DOJ’s turnaround came months after President Joe Biden took office and Merrick Garland was appointed attorney general.

The Supreme Court last year denied a final attempt by Trump to prevent his accountants from releasing his tax returns and other financial records to the Manhattan Attorney General, who is conducting a criminal investigation into his company.

Prosecutors last month indicted the Trump Organization and its CFO Allen Weisselberg over a long-term alleged plan to avoid taxes on executive pay.