President Donald Trump got a little reprieve when a federal judge pressed pause on the House Ways and Means Committee’s attempt to gain access to years of the presidents financial records including business and personal tax returns. The reason? He wants to wait until a ruling is made in a different lawsuit concerning former White House counsel Don McGahn.
Judge Trevor McFadden made the announcement in the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, and it places more importance on McGahn’s case, which is currently mired in Congress’ impeachment proceedings against Trump.
McFadden said he presented his reasons for pausing the case while on a conference call with lawyers from both the Democrat-led House panel and Trump’s team, per CNBC:
At the White House’s direction, McGahn had defied a subpoena issued by House Democrats as part of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. A federal judge in Washington ruled in November that McGahn must testify in compliance with the subpoena, and rejected the Trump administration’s claim of “absolute immunity” for certain advisors.
Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center senior fellow Steven Rosenthal thinks McFadden is only drawing tenuous connections between the two cases.
“McFadden is dragging his heels to avoid ruling against Trump,” Rosenthal said, according to Bloomberg.
“In an earlier case, McFadden rejected Congress’s challenge to Trump’s border wall spending but acknowledged that Congress had extensive authority to pursue oversight and investigation of the executive branch. I think McFadden does not want to follow his own precedent.”
McGahn’s testimony could be a major piece in the impeachment investigation of Trump, according to a December memo from House Judiciary Committee lawyers. It could even lead to “new articles of impeachment” against the president, the memo said.
The Senate formally began its impeachment trial against Trump Thursday as senators were sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts. Only hours before the trial began, the Government Accountability Office, a top government watchdog, said that the Trump administration had violated laws by withholding aid from Ukraine, which is an issue central to the impeachment case.