Saturday, September 15, 2018
National Law Journal, Lawyers Spar Over Trump Tax Return FOIA Suit at DC Circuit:
A U.S. Department of Justice lawyer told a D.C. appeals court Thursday that an advocacy group seeking President Donald Trump’s tax returns hadn’t “perfected” its open records request, but at least one judge on the panel appeared skeptical.
Attorneys for the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center and the DOJ sparred before the three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, as part of EPIC’s continued bid to force the IRS to hand over Trump’s tax returns. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg of the District of Columbia tossed its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit last year, a ruling Epic appealed.
Michael Murray, a DOJ lawyer who argued on behalf of the IRS, urged the panel to keep the lower court ruling intact, insisting EPIC had not exhausted all remedies when it sought Trump’s tax returns through a Freedom of Information Act request.
But Judge Patricia Millett bristled at what she described as the IRS’ effort to shift the burden to EPIC in establishing its case for the release of the tax returns. When Murray stated the IRS normally requires requesters to explain their right to certain kinds of information, Millett responded that FOIA was the very source of an individual’s right to agency documents. The exception, she emphasized, was if there were an exemption that applied.