Lawyers for former President Donald Trump moved to block House Democratic efforts to obtain his tax returns, blasting the push as a political attempt to harm him following the Justice Department greenlighting the effort.

Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal of Massachusetts had requested six years of Trump's tax returns and those of eight Trump-associated businesses, including his Bedminster golf club, from the IRS in April 2019.

Then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected the effort in May 2019 and was backed up by the Trump DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel that year. But the Biden DOJ concluded in July that “Treasury must furnish the information to the Committee,” which the Treasury Department agreed to do, though it allowed Trump a chance to respond in court first.


“After President Trump’s election, Democrats in Congress and across the country only became more eager to disclose the President’s tax returns for political gain. During the 115th Congress, when they were still the minority party, House Democrats gave a variety of reasons for wanting the President’s tax returns. Their statements all had a common theme: the tax returns would contain damaging information about President Trump that the House Democrats would release to the public,” Trump lawyer Patrick Strawbridge of Consovoy McCarthy told a federal court on Wednesday.

Trump’s lawyer continued: “Chairman Neal’s requests have always been a transparent effort by one political party to harass an official from the other party because they dislike his politics and speech. Chairman Neal sought President Trump’s tax returns and return information because his party had recently gained control of the House, President Trump was (and is) their political opponent, and they want to use the information to damage him politically. A vocal wing of the Chairman’s party has been clamoring for President Trump’s tax returns since before the 2016 election. And Chairman Neal made his request just days after prominent Democratic constituencies began publicly criticizing the House for its failure to go after President Trump.”

Neal’s request to the IRS sought Trump’s individual tax returns along with tax information on a number of associated Trump business entities, also seeking the audit histories and work papers connected to each of the tax returns, contending that he was interested in discovering “the extent to which the IRS audits and enforces the Federal tax laws against a President.” Trump’s lawyers said “Chairman Neal’s rationale was pretextual, as he had admitted it would be,” and that “while House Democrats had offered countless justifications for obtaining the President’s tax returns, no one at the time had ever mentioned a desire to find out how the IRS audits Presidents.”

If the Democratic-led committee ends up receiving Trump’s tax returns, it is likely that at least some of the information will be made public. At issue is a portion of the U.S. code that grants Congress fairly broad authority to obtain tax returns.

Dawn Johnsen, the acting assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel under Joe Biden, issued an opinion last month that walked back the Trump DOJ’s conclusion that the Treasury Department didn’t need to hand over Trump’s returns.

Last week, Trump lawyer Ronald Fischetti said: “There is no evidence of any wrongdoing here, and I object to the release of the returns not only on behalf of my client but on behalf of all future holders of the office of the president of the United States."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi celebrated the DOJ's decision last week.

“Access to former President Trump’s tax returns is a matter of national security," Pelosi said. "The American people deserve to know the facts of his troubling conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president.”

Neal said last week: “The Committee’s case is very strong and the law is on our side. I am glad that the Department of Justice agrees and that we can move forward.”

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, opposed the Biden DOJ opinion.


“The federal government closely guards private taxpayer information for a reason. It seems to me that this new opinion from the Biden Justice Department is just politics."