A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump in an attempt to prevent the House Ways and Means Committee from resorting to a New York law to obtain copies of its tax returns.
According to the decision of District of Columbia Judge Carl Nichols, this is not the proper jurisdiction to file this lawsuit against the New York Attorney General’s Office and the director of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance, Michael Schmidt, and the Ways and Means Committee, who have claimed their financial statements.
Trump’s action came after New York on July 8 signed into law two measures that would require the New York Department of Revenue and Finance to file the state tax return of the president, who was an official resident of the Big Apple, if requested by the chairmen of three congressional committees, including the Ways and Means Committee, led by Democrat Richard Neal.
In addition, the “Trust Act,” as this measure has been called, would allow them to request these tax documents regarding members of the New York Lower House, as well as staff working with the head of state and officials who work in a government portfolio and are from this region.
The judge gave way to the defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit but opens the possibility for the president to go to a New York jurisdiction.
Among the arguments presented in Trump’s lawsuit, his attorneys asserted that New York law violates the president’s First Amendment rights because it was enacted “to discriminate and retaliate against the president for his speeches and policies.
Trump is the first president since Gerald Ford (1974-1977) not to publish his tax return each year, a tradition his predecessors considered part of their duty of transparency and accountability to the people.
The president broke with that tradition already during the 2016 election campaign, when he refused to publish his last tax return on the grounds that it was subject to an audit by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. (IRS).
New York Attorney General Letitia James welcomed the magistrate’s decision.
“We have said all along that this lawsuit should be dismissed and we are satisfied with the court’s conclusion. The Trust Act is an important tool that will ensure accountability to the millions of Americans who deserve to know the truth,” he said in a statement.
“We never doubted the legality of this law, that’s why we vigorously defended it from the beginning and we will always continue to do so,” he said.
On November 4, a panel of three judges from an appellate court in New York rejected Trump’s appeal and ordered the U.S. President’s accounting firm to submit its tax returns for the past several years to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office as part of an investigation into secret money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
In early October, a federal judge in New York rejected Trump’s argument of immunity from criminal prosecution after he was asked by the New York District Attorney’s Office to file those tax returns, and the president appealed the decision.
The panel of judges considered that the authorities had requested the documents from the accounting firm, Marzars, not from Trump, so the issue of presidential immunity was not relevant.