The Biden administration has been granted its request for another month to consider the long-running court battle over former president Donald Trump’s tax returns.
In a court filing, President Joe Biden’s team asked Trump-appointed Judge Trevor McFadden to give it until March 3 to consider how to proceed with the case.
The administration pointed to the ‘still-ongoing transition to new leadership at the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Justice.’
Trump’s lawyers agreed with the extension proposed, while the House Ways and Means Committee continued to apply pressure on the release of the returns.
The Biden administration pointed to the ‘still-ongoing transition to new leadership at the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Justice’ in its request for an extension to further consider the on-going court case over Donald Trump’s tax returns
In 2019, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal sent requests and subpoenas to the Treasury and IRS for six years of Trump’s tax returns.
Biden’s White House is yet to take a position about whether it will comply with the committee’s request, and is saying that it needs more time to determine this.
‘Defendants require additional time to evaluate their position in this case, due to the still-ongoing transition to new leadership at the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Justice,’ Department of Justice lawyers wrote in the court filing.
The committee, seeking the records, said it ‘continues to need former President Trump’s tax returns and return information to further its ongoing investigation into Internal Revenue Service administration and policy.’
To make their case, they are citing a dated law that allows the heads of Congress’ tax committees to examine anyone’s private tax information, according to Politico.
The treasury refused to comply with the subpoena under the Trump administration, calling the request from Democrats illegitimate.
House Democrats are suing the Treasury to enforce a subpoena demanding six years worth of the former President’s tax returns. Pictured: Trump waves as he boards Air Force One
In a court filing, President Joe Biden ‘s team asked Trump-appointed Judge Trevor McFadden (pictured, file photo) to give it until March 3 to consider how to proceed with the case
But now the new administration could simply hand over the documents to its congressional allies without Trump even knowing they have done so.
However, it is unclear whether Biden himself wants to turn over the documents that Democrats have been eager to get their hands on for years amid the on-going row.
To observers, should Biden hand them over, it could look like he is using the IRS to censure his predecessor, weakening his message of unity for the whole country.
Furthermore, it could also become a distraction to his legislative agenda, which has so far seen Biden sign swathes of executive orders to roll back Trump-era policies.
Judge McFadden also signed off on an agreement between the Biden administration and Trump’s lawyers involving the returns.
Under the agreement, Trump’s team will be given a 72-hour notice if the administration intends to give the returns the lawmakers.
The three-day warning gives Trump lawyers the chance to block the release in court.
In 2019, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (pictured last year) sent requests and subpoenas to the Treasury and IRS for six years of Trump’s tax returns
House Democrats are suing the Treasury to enforce a subpoena demanding six years worth of the former President’s tax returns. Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (pictured) denied the request during Trump’s time as president
The administration’s request and subsequent sign-off came after McFadden requested both sides file a status report on the case to him by yesterday (Feb 3).
McFadden has ordered that all parties provide another update by March 3.
In July 2019, the House Ways and Means Committee took its fight for Trump’s tax returns to court after the Treasury and IRS refused to comply with the subpoenas.
Initially, the committee sought the tax records under a section of the tax code that says the Treasury ‘shall furnish’ the Ways and Means panel with any tax returns information, but former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin denied the request.
Democrats told the court in its complaint they are investigating the IRS’s use of tax laws and policies relating to presidential tax returns and Trump’s tax law compliance.
Trump faces a criminal probe into tax matters led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr, who is investigating potential tax, loan and insurance fraud at the Trump Organization
Trump is facing a criminal probe into tax matters led by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr, and a civil investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Vance is waiting on a US Supreme Court decision that could force Trump’s accounting firm Mazars USA to hand over his tax records from 2011 to 2018.
However, Vance has already obtained some of the information from other sources, people familiar with the matter told Fortune in January.
Vance’s criminal probe, which began as an investigation into hush money payments to two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, has reportedly widened into examining potential tax, loan and insurance fraud at the Trump Organization.
Trump’s tax returns are considered to be the keystone in the case, and depending on the level of access Vance has gained to them, his probe could now be at an advanced stage.
Trump has previously called Vance’s probe ‘a fishing expedition’ and ‘a continuation of the witch hunt — the greatest witch hunt in history,’ accusing the elected Democrat of partisan motives.
Vance’s probe, which began more than two years ago, originally focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen paid before the 2016 election to two women – a pornographic film star and a former Playboy model – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.
The district attorney has suggested in recent court filings that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.
If Vance discovered evidence of crimes in his investigation, it is possible that he could charge the Trump Organization rather than Trump personally.
Criminal charges would require evidence of criminal intent, and would be difficult to bring without the cooperation of an insider witness.