A U.S. judge seems skeptical that the lawyers for the House of Representatives and the Trump administration can’t come to some arrangement concerning the president’s tax returns.
Noting that the two branches of government are required at least to try to work together, during oral arguments over the returns U.S. Judge Trevor McFadden said:
“I think there should be a way for the parties to work this out. It seems to me that there could be some common ground.”
The court hearing came in a lawsuit a House committee filed in July in hopes of forcing the Internal Revenue Service to comply with a subpoena requesting President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
The House Ways and Means Committee claims it needs to see the returns to determine if the IRS is properly auditing the president, which is a bit of a stretch. The committee doesn’t pull anyone else’s returns to ensure the IRS is doing its job.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected the demand for the documents, saying the committee lacked a sufficient legislative purpose for seeking them.
Lawyers for the Trump administration claimed the case should be dismissed.
One of their arguments was that McFadden cannot hear the case until the House and the White House have earnestly tried to negotiate a compromise.
U.S. courts have held that the U.S. Constitution imposes an implicit requirement on Congress and the White House to attempt to resolve disputes over access to information before asking judges to rule.
Megan Barbero, a lawyer for the House, argued that further negotiation would be pointless. The House wants the returns and the administration isn’t giving them up.
In a separate case, an appeals court in New York ruled that Trump’s longtime accounting firm must hand over eight years of his tax returns to New York prosecutors. Trump’s lawyers have vowed to take that case to the U.S. Supreme Court.