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Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice via Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that former President Trump cannot shield his tax returns from congressional Democrats.

Why it matters: Trump's tax returns are the subject of an inquiry by the House Committee on Ways and Means. He has fought the release to the panel for over two years.

  • The committee has said it plans to use Trump's tax returns to assess the IRS’ presidential audit program, though Trump claims it actually wants to publish them.

What he's saying: "It might not be right or wise to publish the returns, but it is the [committee] Chairman’s right to do so," wrote Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump-nominated judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

  • "Congress has granted him this extraordinary power, and courts are loath to second guess congressional motives or duly enacted statutes."
  • "Even the special solicitude accorded former Presidents does not alter the outcome," McFadden wrote in the 45-page ruling.

Worth noting: The Justice Department told the Treasury Department in July that it "must" release Trump's tax returns to the committee, which it said has a "legitimate legislative purpose."

What's next: Trump has 14 days to appeal the decision.

Go deeper

Jan. 6 committee subpoenas tech giants

A mob of Trump supporters breaches the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Jan. 6 select committee on Thursday subpoenaed Alphabet, Meta, Reddit and Twitter for records as part of its investigation of the Capitol insurrection.

Why it matters: The four social media companies have key information related to the spread of misinformation, efforts to overturn the 2020 election and domestic violent extremism, the panel said.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.