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Judge Says House Can View Trump Taxes to See If He Profited From Being President

A federal judge has said the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee can access Trump’s taxes for 2017 and 2018.

A federal judge has ruled that two years of taxes of former President Donald Trump must be handed over to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta partially approved a subpoena request from that committee to see Trump’s tax records, in order to help determine if he had profited from being president. Mehta’s ruling, however, limited the request that Democrats who are in control of that committee had sought.

Democrats had wanted to look at Trump’s taxes dating back to 2011. Instead, Mehta’s ruling will only allow them to see taxes from his first two years as president, 2017 and 2018.

Democrats on the House panel, led by committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), rationalized their subpoena by saying it would help them to see if they needed to change disclosure laws for presidents. In his ruling, Mehta said that justification was not sufficient to grant the committee’s request to review Trump’s tax returns beyond the two years his ruling allows.

“Such limited legislative need cannot justify the degree to which the Maloney Subpoena imposes on the separation of powers, even in the case of a former President,” Mehta wrote in his decision.

The mixed ruling means that both sides may have reason to seek an appeal. Trump, who for years has attempted to keep his taxes hidden (in spite of him promising to make them public during his 2016 run for president), would likely appeal in order to prevent Democrats from seeing any of his taxes at all. Democrats on the committee, meanwhile, might appeal the decision to argue that they are justified in seeking to review more years of tax filings from Trump.

Earlier this month, Trump’s lawyers filed a legal brief seeking to stop another congressional panel, the House Ways and Means Committee, from obtaining his tax returns, following a memorandum from the Department of Justice (DOJ) that said they had provided enough justification to view those records. That DOJ memo overrode a previous Trump-era opinion from the department that said his tax records could not be viewed by Congress.

The issue of Trump’s taxes has been a contentious one since he ran for president in 2016. At the time, Trump said he was willing to make his tax records public, as every major presidential candidate had done for decades prior, but was unable to do so because he was being audited (the IRS later confirmed that such an audit wouldn’t have prevented him from releasing them anyway).

After he was elected, Trump dismissed the idea of ever releasing his taxes publicly, saying that the American people were no longer interested in them, despite polling that showed just the opposite was true even years after his inauguration.

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