President Donald Trump on Tuesday sued the House Ways and Means Committee, the New York state attorney general, and the New York tax commissioner to prevent his state tax returns from being turned over into Democratic hands.
The series of injunctions and restraining orders were filed by the president’s private lawyers in federal court in Washington, D.C., according to The New York Times.
“We have filed a lawsuit today in our ongoing efforts to end presidential harassment,” said one of the president’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow.
“The harassment tactics lack a legitimate legislative purpose. The actions taken by the House and New York officials are nothing more than political retribution.”
Trump’s tax returns have been a source of contention for the Democrats, dating back to when he was a presidential candidate in 2016. The president’s supposed total lack of financial transparency broke with political tradition, where candidates gladly open their books to public scrutiny to prove there is no conflict of interest or corruption of any kind. Conversely, Trump has been keeping his cards close to his chest.
The Trump administration has maintained that the desire to expose the president’s tax returns lacks a legislative purpose and lies outside the authority of Congress.
“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,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James in a statement posted on her website Tuesday.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) July 23, 2019
New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., a member of the Ways and Means Committee, called the lawsuit “a pathetic stunt.”
Pascrell said in a statement posted to his website Tuesday that the lawsuit is “not worth the forms it’s printed on, and should be laughed out of court.”
In May, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo passed a bill called the TRUST Act, which was meant to clear a legislative path for Congress to get the crucial years of Trump’s state tax returns, according to U.S. News.
Earlier this month, the Democrat-led House Ways and Means Committee ramped up their battle for the president’s personal financial records with a lawsuit aimed to enforce a subpoena. They were attempting to enforce the law passed by Cuomo that allows the committee’s chairman to obtain any taxpayer’s returns.
The suit filed today argues that the committee has no business attempting to obtain the state records because its jurisdiction is limited to federal taxes. However, New York officials named in the suit have made the argument that a lion’s share of the same information is contained in both the state returns and the federal ones.