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Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday sought to block the Treasury Department from providing his tax returns to Congress.
The new legal filing comes less than a week after the Justice Department concluded that the tax records could be handed over to a House committee as part of a yearlong legal battle. The Justice decision marked a reversal from an earlier position claiming that lawmakers lacked a legitimate purpose when they requested the records two years ago.
On Wednesday, Trump's lawyers claimed that congressional Democrats were searching for potentially embarrassing information on a political rival – not seeking information for legislative purposes.
"The requests single out President Trump because he is a Republican and a political opponent," according to court documents. "They were made to retaliate against President Trump because of his policy positions, his political beliefs, and his protected speech, including the positions he took during the 2016 and 2020 campaigns."
Members of Congress have said they are researching possible legislation to regulate the auditing of presidential tax returns.
Trump's lawyers contend that Congress is not seeking the tax returns of other presidents, but those records are already in the public domain. Trump was the first presidential candidate in modern times not to release the report.
"The requests are tailored to, and in practical operation will affect, only President Trump," the court documents state.
Last week, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel said the House Ways and Means Committee, which asked the Internal Revenue Service for Trump's tax returns in 2019, has "invoked sufficient reasons" for its request.
Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chair of the Ways and Means Committee, has said lawmakers' case for seeking Trump's returns is "very strong."
Contributing: Kristine Phillips
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump taxes: Lawyers try to block Congress from Trump's tax records