President Donald Trump on Tuesday filed another lawsuit in his ongoing effort to block a congressional committee from accessing his tax records, this time targeting authorities in his home state.
This latest suit names the House Ways and Means Committee, New York Attorney General Letitia James and the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance, Michael Schmidt.
Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into a law the TRUST Act, which would authorize the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance to share state tax return information with a requesting congressional committee.
“Like House Democrats, Democratic officials in New York have used every tool at their disposal to expose the president’s private financial information,” lawyers for Trump wrote in their complaint. “And like House Democrats, their goal is to retaliate against President Trump and damage him politically.”
ABC News has reported that the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., has hesitated to use the new law to request the president’s state returns, but in their complaint, the president’s lawyers claim that Neal has “expressed a renewed interest in utilizing” the statute.
The president’s legal team argues that the committee has “no legitimate legislative purpose” in requesting the president’s state tax returns and asks the court to keep the state and Congress from accessing his state returns.
“We have filed a lawsuit today in our ongoing efforts to end Presidential harassment,” said the president’s attorney Jay Sekulow in a statement. “The harassment tactics lack a legitimate legislative purpose. The actions taken by the House and New York officials are nothing more than political retribution.”
The New York attorney general, in a statement on Tuesday, defended her state’s efforts to acquire Trump’s returns.
“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 in the statement.
The lawsuit further argues that members of Congress cannot use the new state law as an end run around the Treasury Department’s decision not to release the president’s federal tax returns.
“Once it became clear that Treasury would not divulge the President’s federal returns, New York passed a law allowing the Committee to get his state returns,” the lawsuit said. “Because the Committee’s jurisdiction is limited to federal taxes, no legislation could possibly result from a request for the President’s state tax returns. The Committee thus lacks a legitimate legislative purpose for using the TRUST Act.”