House Democrats intent on speeding up their pursuit of taking down President Trump just got the wind knocked out of their sails.
An effort by the House Ways and Means Committee to expedite a lawsuit over demands for Trump’s federal tax returns was halted by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
“It may be appropriate to expedite this matter at some point, but not now,” Judge Trevor McFadden said, rejecting the Democrats’ effort to speed up the case and get a summary judgment against the president, according to The Hill.
In a lawsuit filed last month, the committee asked the court to order compliance from the Treasury Department and IRS regarding requests and subpoenas it had made to secure six years of Trump’s tax returns. Earlier this month, the Democrats asked the Trump-appointed judge for a summary judgment as well as to speed up the case.
The Trump administration asked McFadden to consider its motion to dismiss ahead of the committee’s motion for summary judgment, in a move that may put into question the court’s authority in even resolving the dispute.
“To be sure, this is no ordinary case, but the weighty constitutional issues and political ramifications it presents militate in favor of caution and deliberation, not haste,” McFadden said. “And the Committee has not shown otherwise.”
The judge made it clear he would not be playing along in the Democrats’ game as they argued that timing is critical. But McFadden noted that “the Court does not fault the Committee for its time and efforts negotiating with the Administration before suing, but it is not clear why only now the Committee asks for expedited consideration of this matter.”
He also pointed out that other cases filed by House Democrats could have an impact on his ultimate judgment.
“That related issues are percolating in other courts, particularly before the D.C. Circuit, suggests that a rush to judgment here would be unwise. Indeed, by first addressing the preliminary questions, the Court—and the parties—may benefit from guidance from the Circuit about issues-in-common with the matters on appeal,” he said.
McFadden ruled that the “complex questions” raised on the balance of power between the government branches requires that a rush to judgment be avoided.
“This case presents novel and complex questions about the privileges and authority of all three branches of the federal government,” he said in the order, noting how the “Committee asks the Court to wade into a dispute between the political branches about disclosing the President’s personal financial information over his objections.”
The judge informed the House Democrats that the deadline had not even passed on when Trump could file motions in response and that many factors could change.
“The Committee has not justified its request to bypass the motion to dismiss stage and skip ahead to summary judgment. Indeed, by the time summary judgment is appropriate, this case might look very different. There may be new case law, new facts, and new parties,” he said in the seven-page memorandum, providing a small and perhaps temporary victory for Trump.