While Trump’s attorneys acknowledged the committee has not yet requested the records, they argue that without an emergency court order, if the president waited until lawmakers moved, his returns might be disclosed before his claim could be heard in court.
New York state officials have also asked U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols of Washington to dismiss or move the case to New York, saying Trump’s lawsuit involves a state law and actions by state officials, none of which occurred in Washington. The court has ordered New York not to respond to any request while that motion is pending.
In Monday’s 40-page filing, House General Counsel Douglas N. Letter said Trump’s case should be dismissed on legal and constitutional grounds, saying the president has no basis to sue because Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) has not made any request to New York under the law, and the committee has not decided whether to do so.
“At present, Mr. Trump does not and cannot allege that he is suffering harm,” Letter wrote, and while New York is bound by the court’s orders, “By Mr. Trump’s own admission, any future Committee request by itself also would not injure him.”
At the same time, Letter argued, the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause absolutely bars the executive branch from interfering in Senate or House members’ deliberations, whatever their content or motivations, while lawmakers perform their official duties.
“There is simply no precedent in our system of divided government for the Judicial Branch to intrude upon a Congressional committee’s deliberative affairs in this manner,” Letter argued, adding, “This Court should not be the first to issue such a plainly inappropriate order.”
Trump on July 23 sued Neal and New York officials to prevent them from using New York’s Trust Act, enacted earlier that month, which allows New York tax officials to turn over Trump’s state tax returns to three House committees upon their request.
Attorneys for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday but will file a response in court next month.
Trump called the pursuit of his private financial information an attempt at political gain and accused New York lawmakers of violating his First Amendment rights by trying to discriminate and retaliate against him “for his speech and politics.”
New York lawmakers presented the new law as a means of empowering congressional oversight by unearthing details of the president’s past business dealings, his income and other personal financial information that he has refused to release via his federal tax returns.