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2019-07-02 — nytimes.com

The House's tax-writing committee sued the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday demanding access to President Trump's tax returns, escalating a fight with an administration that has repeatedly dismissed as illegitimate the Democrats' attempt to obtain Mr. Trump's financial records.

The lawsuit moves the dispute into federal courts after months of sniping between the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee, which requested and then subpoenaed the returns, and the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin. The outcome is likely to determine whether financial information that Mr. Trump -- breaking with longstanding tradition -- has kept closely guarded as a candidate and as president will be viewed by Congress and, ultimately, by the public.

In Tuesday's filing, the House argued that the administration's defiance of its request amounted to "an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the I.R.S., and the tax laws on behalf of the American people."

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The same dispute is at the center of a pair of lawsuits over subpoenas to accounting and banking firms for other financial records involving the Trump Organization. So far, two Federal District Court judges have rejected the argument offered by Mr. Trump's private legal team that those requests did not carry legitimate legislative purposes. Mr. Trump has taken those losses to appeals courts.

A ruling by a federal court on the merits of the recurring dispute could shift the balance of power between the two branches and impact the authority of Congress to conduct oversight over not just Mr. Trump but presidents for years to come.

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