- The Washington Times
Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A federal judge Tuesday put on hold a lawsuit by House Democrats to obtain President Trump’s tax returns, saying he would wait until an appeals court resolves a separate legal dispute relating to Congressional subpoenas.

U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden in Washington issued a stay in a lawsuit brought by the House Ways and Means Committee to examine Mr. Trump’s individual and business federal tax returns.

In a brief order, Judge McFadden said he would not rule until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decides whether former White House counsel Don McGahn must comply with a Congressional subpoena.

A panel of three appellate court judges is currently weighing whether Mr. Trump can invoke executive privilege to block Mr. McGahn’s testimony as part of the impeachment effort. A ruling is expected by the end of the month.

Judge McFadden issued the order shortly after a telephone conference with lawyers in the tax return case.

The lawsuit brought by the Ways and Means Committee is still in the early stages. Democrats are invoking a 1924 law they saw gives the heads of Congressional tax committees to review anyone’s private tax returns.

Mr. Trump’s legal team says the lawsuit must be dismissed because the court doesn’t have the authority to resolve disputes between the Congress and White House over information. The president’s legal team has raised the same arguments in the McGahn case.

However, even if the appellate court reaches a decision in the McGahn dispute, it won’t be final. Whoever loses the case will appeal the decision, taking it to the entire D.C. Circuit panel of judges and then the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Ways and Means Committee’s lawsuit is one of a myriad of Democrat efforts to get ahold of Mr. Trump’s tax returns.

Later this year, the Supreme Court will review a separate case filed by New York prosecutors seeking to force Mr. Trump’s longtime accounting firm to turn over eight years of tax returns.

The Congressional panel filed its own suit in July after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ignored a Congressional subpoena demanding the returns.

A Justice Department advisory legal opinion earlier this year concluded the committee lacked the “legitimate legislative purpose” to compel the tax returns and, therefore, Mr. Mnuchin did not break the law by defying the subpoena.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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