House Democrats are urging a federal judge to reject a bid by President Donald Trump to force them to alert him if they seek his state tax filings under a recently passed New York law.
In a court filing Friday, lawyers for the House argue the court does not have the power to impose such a requirement. Taking advantage of the New York law would fall squarely within lawmakers’ legislative responsibilities, they say, which are protected under the Constitution.
“The committee’s decision-making about whether to gather information for its work is plainly covered by the Constitution’s Speech or Debate clause, which shields from judicial scrutiny legislative acts, including information requests by Congressional committees,” the lawyers say.
“The Committee may never make such a request, and its decision whether to do so is entirely discretionary.”
The filing comes after Trump lawyer William Consovoy asked Judge Carl Nichols to require either Democrats or the state of New York to give him two weeks notice if they seek the president’s state returns under a law passed in July designed to give Congress access to Trump’s long-hidden returns.
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), one of the lawmakers who could request the returns, has demonstrated little interest in using the law, but Consovoy is concerned he could change his mind and get the returns without notice and before Trump’s lawyers have a chance to challenge the request in court.
Nichols has set a hearing on Monday on the matter.
The dispute comes after Nichols earlier this week ruled his Washington, D.C., court didn’t have jurisdiction over the New York officials who would administer the law. Nichols invited Trump to refile the case in New York.
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