think there should be a way for the parties to figure this out,"
said U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden during an oral
argument, adding "it seems to me that there could be some common
The court hearing came in a lawsuit a House committee filed in
July in hopes of forcing the Internal Revenue Service to comply
with a subpoena requesting President Donald Trump's tax returns.
The House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax laws, has
said it needs Trump's tax returns to determine if the IRS is
properly auditing presidential tax returns in general.
In a widely expected move, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven
Mnuchin rejected the demand for the documents, saying the
committee lacked a sufficient legislative purpose for seeking
Justice Department lawyers, arguing on behalf of the Trump
administration, raised several arguments at Wednesday's court
hearing for why the case should be dismissed.
One of their arguments was that McFadden cannot hear the case
until the House and the White House have earnestly tried to
negotiate a compromise.
U.S. courts have held that the U.S. Constitution imposes an
implicit requirement on Congress and the White House to attempt
to resolve disputes over access to information before asking
judges to rule.
"Here, that just hasn't happened," said Steven Meyers, a Justice
Department lawyer, suggesting there might be other information
the House could seek besides Trump's tax returns to assist it in
examining how the IRS audits presidents.
Megan Barbero, a lawyer for the House, argued that further
negotiation would be pointless. The House committee believes it
needs to see Trump's tax returns, and the Treasury Department
has made clear it will not produce them, Barbero said.
"It is quite clear the parties are at an impasse," Barbero said.
McFadden, a Trump appointee, stopped short of dismissing the
case or formally demanding the parties begin a negotiation. But
he said he took seriously the negotiation requirement, adding
"it would behoove the parties to begin thinking about what that
process would look like."
The lawsuit is just one of several court fights over access to
Trump's tax returns.
This week an appeals court in New York ruled that Trumpís
longtime accounting firm must hand over eight years of his tax
returns to New York prosecutors. Trump's lawyers have vowed to
take that case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe)
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