President Trump and his campaign have filed a lawsuit against top California officials over a law that would require him to release his tax returns or not be listed on the state's presidential primary ballot in 2020.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, argues theis unconstitutional, running afoul of the First Amendment and restrictions on state power. The law, signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom last month, requires all candidates for president to disclose the previous five years of tax returns in order to appear on the primary ballot. Mr. Trump, who said he'd release his tax returns on the campaign trail, has declined to do so since taking office, claiming his returns are still under audit.
The lawsuit specifically names California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as defendants.
"The Democratic Party is on a crusade to obtain the president's federal tax returns in the hopes of finding something they can use to harm him politically," the lawsuit says. "In their rush to join this crusade, California Democrats have run afoul of these restrictions on state power over federal elections."
The lawsuit argues that the law, SB27, "adds an unconstitutional qualification" to the prerequisites listed in the Constitution. "It violates the First Amendment, and is preempted by EIGA (the Ethics in Government Act), the court should enjoin its enforcement," the president's lawyers argue.
Jay Sekulow, the president's private counsel, said the president's legal team believes that the American people have already weighed in on the matter of the president's tax returns, and the California law will fail in court.
"The issue of whether the president should release his federal tax returns was litigated in the 2016 election and the American people spoke," Sekulow said in a statement. "The effort to deny California voters the opportunity to cast a ballot for President Trump in 2020 will clearly fail. Legal scholars from across the political spectrum have roundly condemned this flagrantly illegal statute. We are confident the courts will as well."
— CBS News' chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett contributed to this report