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US judge sets July 29 hearing in Trump lawsuit over tax returns

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A US judge will hear arguments on July 29 in President Donald Trump's lawsuit seeking to block a House of Representatives committee from obtaining his New York state tax returns, according to a court filing issued Sunday.

[NEW YORK] A US judge will hear arguments on July 29 in President Donald Trump's lawsuit seeking to block a House of Representatives committee from obtaining his New York state tax returns, according to a court filing issued Sunday.

US District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington scheduled the hearing so he could resolve an "emergency" lawsuit Mr Trump's personal lawyers filed last week against the Democrat-controlled House Ways and Means Committee.

In that petition, Mr Trump's lawyers argued that a law passed by New York state earlier this month that would give the committee access to the president's state tax returns violates his constitutional rights.

New York's law "was enacted to retaliate against the President because of his policy positions, his political beliefs, and his protected speech, including the positions he took during the 2016 campaign," the filing said.

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It cited a media report that the House panel's chairman, Democratic Representative Richard Neal, is mulling making a request under the law, which New York could nearly instantaneously fulfill.

"President Trump was thus forced to bring this lawsuit to safeguard his legal rights," his lawyers wrote.

Traditionally, US presidential candidates have released their federal tax returns on the campaign trail. But Mr Trump has repeatedly refused to do so, citing audits.

The House committee has sought Mr Trump's federal returns to shed light on his business dealings.

The Treasury Department has denied the committee's request, despite a federal law that says the department "shall furnish" such records to the panel if requested. The Treasury Department said the committee had no legitimate purpose for reviewing Mr Trump's returns.

The committee filed its own lawsuit earlier this month seeking to compel the department to hand over six years of Mr Trump's individual and business federal tax returns.

Mr Neal has expressed caution about using the New York law to obtain Mr Trump's state returns, saying it could harm efforts to get the president's federal returns through the lawsuit.

Judge Nichols, a Trump appointee, was confirmed by the Senate in May by a vote of 55-43.

REUTERS