Richter asks why the judiciary reversed course on Trump taxes

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Donald Trump

McFadden, a Trump-appointed MP, hinted that the turnaround was policy-driven and said the new stance could dictate that Congress may be entitled not only to Biden’s returns – which have already been made public – but even to the taxes filed by Biden’s son Hunter.

“I mean, if Congress changes hands here in a couple of years and a Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee asks about Hunter Biden’s tax returns,” [you] I would just say, ‘Oh yeah, we have to leave it to Congress. You said they were interested in adopting the presidential family. We have to turn them around. ‘ Will that be the position of the administration? ”Said the judge.

McFadden’s comments were the latest turn in a year-long attempt by the House of Representatives to obtain Trump’s tax returns. After Biden took office, the DOJ negotiated with the House of Representatives and agreed to drop its objection to the House Ways and Means Committee’s offer for the documents. However, the DOJ agreed to continue the case before handing the returns on to the Democrat-led panel.

Justice Department attorney James Gilligan said he could not address Hunter Biden’s hypothesis.

“I’m just a Department of Justice professional attorney. I don’t speak for the administration, ”said Gilligan.

“You speak for the United States,” replied the judge.

House General Counsel Douglas Letter indicated that politics and personal allegiance to the President may have been at work in the 2019 memo – prepared by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel – rather than the most recent revision.

“The previous OLC [Office of Legal Counsel] Comment was given when Mr. Trump was the head of OLC, ”noted Letter.

However, McFadden, a Trump-appointed employee, also said the new position marked by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel is inconsistent with the robust view of the executive branch that that office has traditionally held. He predicted it would be short-lived.

“I was impressed by how respectful the OLC 2021 Statement is to Congress. OLC is not known to be deferential to anyone other than the President, ”said McFadden. “I find it hard to believe that you will keep this view for anything other than this one request.”

For more than three hours on Tuesday, McFadden urged House and Justice attorneys over their arguments in favor of soliciting Trump’s tax returns and whether – now that Trump has resigned – there were still concerns about the separation of powers in order to lock down the IRS justify them to the legislature.

Throughout the hearing, McFadden asked attorneys how hard they should weigh Trump’s concerns that Democratic lawmakers wanted to get his tax returns for political reasons. He also wondered whether Congress’s request for tax returns could be used as a “stick about future presidents” who could be forced to “play nice with Congress or Congress will expose your tax returns.”

However, Letter said both concerns were unfounded, noting that every modern president except Trump has voluntarily published tax returns.

“This burden has to be minimal because all other presidents don’t think it’s a burden or something to worry about,” Letter said.

McFadden appeared to support the Justice Department’s request to end the lawsuit, although at times he said he wasn’t sure this was at the right stage in the process.

The judge suggested that some of Trump’s allegations could survive the House of Representatives’ efforts to dismiss the lawsuit and spark another round of litigation, possibly after establishing the facts, but McFadden also didn’t seem enthusiastic about an investigation into the chairman des House Ways and Means Richard Neal (D-Mass.) Motives for filing an application under a law that specifically regulates Congress access to tax records.

A Trump attorney, Patrick Strawbridge, did not elaborate on exactly what records would help Trump prepare his case, but said it likely would not require testimony from Neal or anyone else in the house.

“We do not intend to remove members of Congress,” said the lawyer.

However, Letter said he was confused by the suggestion that Trump’s lawyers needed more facts to argue the case.

“I’m really not sure what Mr. Strawbridge is thinking? Will he uncover the legal aid office? Is he calling? [former OLC chief] Steven Engel … and say, ‘Has anyone in the White House influenced your opinion?’ “Letter said.

While Strawbridge denies holding the case, one possibility raised by the hearing is that Trump is hoping the litigation and subsequent appeals will drag on for a year or more.

That would put the case through the next election, in which Republicans are preferred to regain control of the House of Representatives. That would likely make the case moot by replacing Neal with a Republican in the office of Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Trump’s attorneys argued that statements by Neal and other Democratic lawmakers show that his motion is politically motivated vengeance that has nothing to do with possible legislation.

It is a reversal of Trump’s own position on cases where his acts have been challenged, including travel ban orders that critics have said discriminated against Muslims. In that lawsuit, Trump’s lawyers said the courts should ignore his comments in media interviews, public appearances, and campaigning ahead of his 2016 election.

For its part, the Justice Department argued Tuesday that the statements allegedly shedding light on the motives of Neal and other Democrats were “legally irrelevant”.

“They … belong in the realm of political turmoil, political gossip that the Supreme Court says they will not pay attention to if there is a valid purpose in the investigation,” said the Justice Department attorney.

McFadden has repeatedly said he does not consider the legal standard for resolving the current fight to be the muddy Supreme Court ruling last year over the House of Representatives’ efforts to use a subpoena to obtain similar materials from Trump’s accountants at the accounting firm Mazars.

“Honestly, I think Mazars instinctively fits in with President Trump no longer being president, but I’m also struggling with the alternative,” McFadden said. “I find it hard to imagine that the founders thought the rights would move on with you after you ceased to be the incumbent … My inclination … is that former presidents shouldn’t matter much in this separation of powers analysis.”

The judge noted, however, that in a 1977 case involving President Richard Nixon’s papers, the Supreme Court said that access to a former president’s papers could imply problems with executive power.

McFadden said he plans to have a decision on the pending motion to dismiss the case in the next two or three weeks.

“We are a bit of uncharted territory here, what to do with a lawsuit like this from a former president,” said the judge.

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