Using a personal attorney, President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the House Ways and Means Committee and two New York state officials in a bid to prevent them from taking advantage of a recently passed New York State law to obtain Trump’s state tax returns.
The lawsuit – filed in D.C. federal court – asks for permanent injunctions that would ban the House committee from using the New York law, ban New York State Attorney General Letitia James from enforcing it, and ban New York State Taxation Commissioner Michael Schmidt from complying with any request under the law.
Trump, through personal attorney William Consovoy, recapitulates earlier arguments that the committee lacks a legitimate legislative purpose in issuing the request for the President’s returns – not a requirement under the tax code or the New York state law.
The President also asks for a declaration from a federal judge that the committee “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose for obtaining the President’s state tax information.” Trump is also asking to be reimbursed for his attorneys’ fees.
New York passed a law this month that allows the Ways and Means Committee to request the state returns of any New York filer, so long as the committee has already asked the Treasury Department for the same.
“That hyper-specific condition was, not coincidentally, already satisfied for the intended target of the Act: President Trump,” the lawsuit reads.
Trump alleges that there is a “campaign in New York to uncover and expose the President’s private financial information in the hopes of damaging him politically,” of which the recent law is a part.
Ways and Means chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) has expressed reluctance to ask for the New York state returns, for fear that such a request may damage ongoing litigation to force the Trump Administration to comply with his earlier request for the President’s tax information
But the Tuesday lawsuit cites a report saying that the Ways and Means Committee is now “reviewing” the law, amid “intense pressure” from other Democrats.
“If Chairman Neal requested the New York returns, it would prove one of the defendants’ key arguments in the litigation over the federal returns—that the Chairman is trying to expose the President’s financial information for political gain, not to study the IRS’s audit procedures,” attorneys for Trump write.
Trump goes on to allege that the “partisan efforts” to retrieve his tax information constitute a violation of his First Amendment rights, because the government is allegedly retaliating against the President for his “speech or politics.”
His attorneys argue that the law “was enacted to retaliate against the President because of his policy positions, his political beliefs, and his protected speech, including the positions he took during the 2016 campaign.”
Trump is the first President since Gerald Ford not to disclose his tax returns.
Read the lawsuit here: