Lawyers for President Donald Trump, House Democrats and New York state told a federal judge today that they have failed to resolve a dispute over the president’s state tax returns. New york lawyer.
"Notwithstanding their best efforts, the parties are unable to reach agreement,” the three sides said in a joint court filing.
They had been ordered by District Judge Carl Nichols on Monday to figure out among themselves how to proceed in the case, in which Trump is demanding a temporary restraining order to prevent Democrats from taking advantage of a newly passed New York law designed to give them access to the president’s state tax filings.
Trump is challenging the underlying law, and is concerned that Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) could obtain the records while the case is pending.
Nichols declined to rule on the matter Monday, saying that since Democrats have not yet asked for the documents, he cannot determine whether such a request would be lawful.
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The judge appeared concerned both with stepping on Congress’ independence and also the possibility that Neal could obtain Trump’s New York filings before the case was decided. Nichols had ordered the three sides to report back to him by 6p.m. today.
In the joint statement, House Democrats’ lawyers urged Nichols to reject Trump’s request for a restraining order. They said issuing an injunction against Congress, at the president’s behest and before lawmakers had even done anything, would raise “glaring separation of powers concerns.”
“This is precisely what the Framers of the Constitution wished to guard against,” they said.
Trump lawyer William Consovoy, meanwhile, asked the court to order Ways and Means to provide at least 14 days notice before it requests any returns so the president has a chance to fight it in court. Or, Consovoy said, the judge could order New York state to wait 14 days before fulfilling any request.
“That will allow these weighty issues to be adequately briefed, argued and decided,” he said.
New York argued Nichols does not have jurisdiction over the issue, and said the case ought to be transferred to the Southern District of New York. A lawyer for the state offered to hold off delivering any requested documents while the question of jurisdiction is addressed.
The state also said it would wait for one week after a court decides that issue before handing any filings over. That would give Trump “a reasonable opportunity to take whatever steps he deems necessary to protect his interests.”
Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation authorizing state officials there to share Trump’s state filings with Neal upon his request.
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The Massachusetts Democrat is separately suing the Treasury Department for the president’s federal returns under a 1924 law allowing the heads of Congress’ tax committees to examine anyone’s confidential tax information.
Neal has been lukewarm about the prospect of taking advantage of the New York law, to the chagrin of some liberals. Trump is concerned that Neal could change his mind at any time, and obtain his records without warning. Neal’s lawyers said Monday that he has not requested the filings.