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Judge temporarily blocks New York from giving Trump's state tax returns to Congress

Key Points
  • A federal judge temporarily blocked New York state officials from giving President Donald Trump's state tax returns to a House committee chairman, according to a court filing made public Thursday.
  • Judge Carl Nichols had reportedly signaled he would issue the court order, based on a proposal from New York, during a teleconference a day earlier.
  • The president's lawyers had asked Judge Carl Nichols to stop Rep. Richard Neal from "requesting or receiving" Trump's New York state tax returns under that state law, known as the TRUST Act.
President Donald Trump pumps his fist during a signing ceremony for the "Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act" in the Rose Garden of the White House, July 29, 2019.
Carlos Barria | Reuters

A federal judge temporarily blocked New York state officials from giving President Donald Trump's state tax returns to a House committee chairman, according to a court filing made public Thursday.

Judge Carl Nichols had reportedly signaled he would issue the court order, based on a proposal from New York, during a teleconference a day earlier.

Trump's lawyers had argued a week earlier that the president would not have a chance to respond in court if House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., requested years of Trump's state tax returns through a recently passed New York law.

That law, known as the TRUST Act, offered Democrats a way around the ongoing fight with the Trump administration over the president's tax returns. But even though Neal has so far refused to make the request, Trump's lawyers asked Nichols last week to stop the chairman from "requesting or receiving" the New York state tax returns until Trump "obtains an opportunity for judicial review."

In a filing in Washington, D.C., district court, the judge ordered that New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York tax chief Michael Schmidt "shall not deliver" any TRUST Act-related information to the Ways and Means Committee — at least until one week after he decides on a forthcoming motion to dismiss the case.

Nichols also ordered, for the same time period, that James and Schmidt must notify Trump and the judge if Neal does end up requesting the state tax returns.

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Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks to reporters outside congressional hearing

The New York officials said in a status report earlier this week that the D.C. court was the wrong venue for the case. "A New York court would be the more appropriate forum to adjudicate a constitutional challenge to a New York statute," they argued.

The judge set an Aug. 9 deadline for James and Schmidt to file their bid to drop Trump's case, as well as Aug. 29 date for a hearing.

In early July, Neal's committee sued the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service for six years of Trump's federal returns. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS chief Charles Rettig are included in that suit.

The fight over Trump's taxes stretches back before he was even elected president.

Trump has refused to show his tax information before or after winning the 2016 presidential election, challenging a longstanding tradition among modern presidential candidates to disclose their returns.

During the campaign, Trump said he would release his returns following the completion of an audit — though an audit doesn't actually prevent him from disclosing his taxes. As recently as April, he has said he wouldn't release his taxes while under audit.

Read the judge's order in Trump's case: