WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal judge seemed inclined to maintain the status quo Wednesday by letting New York wait one week on any request it gets from House Democrats for the president’s tax returns.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichol said he wanted to think overnight on whether to accept the state’s promise of a one-week delay — an offer that would prevent Nichols from either forbidding the House Ways and Means Committee from requesting the records in the first place or from dictating how the New York state Department of Taxation and Finance should respond.
At a hearing this morning in Washington, Nichol twice asked House attorney Douglas whether the committee would follow New York’s lead.
“This may be gilding the lily … but would you also be willing to notify the court if the committee were to make a request to New York,” Nichol asked.
To both queries, House attorney Douglas Letter replied he was not authorized by the House of Representative to make such a commitment.
“We will of course abide by any order of the court,” Letter said.
Nichols dropped the issue, though later pointed out that such a request from Congress would “ripen this dispute in significant respect.”
“I continue to expect that while I have this action under advisement action won’t be taken up to moot this case out,” Nichols said.
Letter had argued in a hearing Monday that the court did not have the authority to order a congressional body not to make a request for information.
Letter argued that no private citizen, including the president, can haul a committee of Congress into court, and that the House committee could make the request for President Donald Trump’s New York returns, if it so chooses, during the August recess.
President Donald Trump brought the lawsuit in Washington as a private citizen, claiming the TRUST Act passed by New York lawmakers in May is a strategic attack by House Democrats and New York to make public his returns. The law authorizes state tax officials to release returns filed by lawmakers and political party leaders in response to requests from three congressional committees, including Ways and Means.