But then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was appointed by Trump, refused to comply with the request for his tax returns, saying that the committee lacked a legitimate legislative purpose.
The committee then sued to force Treasury to turn over the returns.
After President Joe Biden, a Democrat, defeated Trump in the 2020 election, committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., renewed his request for the tax returns, with added detail about the reasons the panel wanted them. Neal said that the committee, in addition to reviewing how tax laws apply to presidents, also would review potential conflicts of interest by a president.
The Treasury Department in mid-2021 said it would release the returns, citing an opinion by the department’s lawyers. They found that Neal’s request was valid, and that Treasury had a legal obligation to comply.
Trump then countersued to block the returns from being turned over, arguing that the request both violated the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government and that the request did not have a legitimate purpose.
On Dec. 14, Washington federal court Judge Trevor McFadden ruled against Trump, saying the committee had a right to the returns.
“A long line of Supreme Court cases requires great deference to facially valid congressional inquiries. Even the special solicitude accorded former presidents does not alter the outcome,” McFadden wrote.
“The committee need only state a valid legislative purpose,” McFadden wrote. “It has done so.”