Judge rejects Trump bid to keep tax returns from Congress

Donald Trump was the first president in 40 years not to disclose his tax returns to voters

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the impeachment inquiry during his meeting with Finland's President Sauli Niinisto at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

A US judge on Tuesday dismissed a bid by former president Donald Trump to keep his tax returns from a House of Representatives committee.

US District Judge Trevor McFadden ruled that Congress's legislative interest outweighed any deference Mr Trump should receive as a former president.

Mr McFadden said in his ruling that Trump was "wrong on the law" in seeking to block the House ways and means committee from obtaining his tax returns.

He said it was within the power of the committee's chairman to publish the returns if he saw fit, and put his ruling on hold for 14 days, allowing time for an appeal.

Mr Trump was the first president in 40 years not to release his tax returns as he aimed to keep secret the details of his wealth and the activities of his family company, the Trump Organisation.

The committee sued in 2019 to force disclosure of the tax returns, and the dispute lingers nearly 11 months after Mr Trump left office.

His lawyer, Patrick Strawbridge, told Mr McFadden last month that the committee had no legitimate reason to see the tax returns and asked for them in the hope of uncovering information that could hurt him politically.

House Democrats have said they need Mr Trump's tax returns to see if the Internal Revenue Service is properly auditing presidential returns in general, and to assess whether new legislation is needed.

Mr McFadden, who was appointed by Mr Trump, said the committee would be able to accomplish its stated objective without publishing the returns.

He cautioned the panel's Democratic chairman, Richard Neal, that while he has the right to do so, "anyone can see that publishing confidential tax information of a political rival is the type of move that will return to plague the inventor".

Updated: December 15th 2021, 1:11 AM