WASHINGTON (CN) – Acting as a private citizen, President Donald Trump filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to block the House Ways and Means Committee from getting his state tax returns after New York lawmakers made it easier for members of Congress to do so.
Taking issue with the TRUST Act passed by New York lawmakers in May — authorizing state tax officials to release returns filed by lawmakers and political party leaders in response to requests from three congressional committees, including the House Ways and Means Committee — the lawsuit claims the legislation directly targeted Trump.
It notes the law also requires the release of the president’s state tax returns “if the Committee has already requested the President’s federal returns from Treasury.”
“The hyper-specific condition was, not coincidentally, already satisfied for the intended target of the Act: President Trump,” according to the lawsuit, which demands a permanent block on enforcement of the TRUST Act.
The complaint filed in Washington, D.C., federal court also argues there was no legitimate legislative purpose behind a Ways and Means Committee lawsuit filed earlier this month to force the Treasury Department and IRS to turn over Trump’s returns from the last six years.
New York Attorney General Letitia James responded to these allegations in a statement after the filing of the lawsuit, which was brought against her as well as the House Ways and Means Committee and Michael Schmidt, commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
“President Trump has spent his career hiding behind lawsuits, but, as New York’s chief law enforcement officer, I can assure him that no one is above the law — not even the president of the United States,” James said.
All Americans want to know the truth about their president, James added, and the TRUST Act will help “shine a light.”
Trump argues in the complaint that the committee’s push to review his returns is driven solely by a desire to expose a political opponent’s private information.
“‘Oversight’ and ‘transparency,’ in a vacuum, are not legitimate purposes that can justify requesting the confidential information of a private citizen,” the lawsuit states.
But the Ways and Means Committee, led by Representative Richard Neal, D-Mass., insists lawmakers cannot do their jobs without a better understanding of the president’s personal holdings.
“Without reviewing the requested return materials, the committee cannot ensure that the IRS’s audit process is functioning fairly and effectively, understand how provisions of the tax code are implicated by President Trump’s returns, or exercise its legislative judgment to determine whether changes to the code may be warranted,” according to the committee’s July 2 complaint.
Failing to address the fact that Congress has reviewed financial records of every president since the Nixon administration, Trump claims federal and state officials’ partisan efforts to expose his tax returns are in violation of the Constitution.
“The TRUST Act singles out President Trump because he is a Republican and a political opponent. It 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,” his lawsuit states.