On 12 September 2016, lawyers for Vice News filed suit against the IRS and the FBI in an effort to receive Donald J. Trump’s tax returns (see entire complaint below).
The suit comes after Vice filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on 18 August, asking for any and all IRS audits of Trump’s returns since 2002. The FOIA letter also requested expedited service.
Neither agency responded to the initial request. The lawsuit claims a violation of FOIA rules and calls for immediate processing of the August FOIA request.
According to Jason Leopold with Vice, the FOIA demand included an exhaustive list of information related to Trump’s dealings with the IRS and law enforcement.
We also asked the IRS for “any and all requests by law enforcement agencies for copies of … Trump’s individual tax returns” and “any and all records mentioning or referring to requests by law enforcement agencies for copies of individual tax returns.” We also named the FBI as a defendant.
News organizations traditionally use the FOIA to obtain such records in pursuit of an investigative piece. Apparently, no other national news organization has filed a FOIA to obtain the tax returns of the Republican presidential candidate.
Trump had repeatedly said he would release his returns. However, in February of this year, he stated that he was unable to do so because he was being audited by the IRS. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, and her spouse, former President Bill Clinton, released eight years’ of returns in July of last year.
Jeffrey Light, a D.C. attorney, is the counsel for the plaintiff (Vice) along with Jason Leopold and Ryan Shapiro. The three are employed with the law firm of Jeffrey L. Light in Washington, DC. Leopold is also an investigative reporter with Vice.
Below is the entire complaint filed by the counsel for Vice News.