Chief Justice Roberts temporarily delays release of Trump tax records


Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. temporarily halted the release of former President Donald Trump’s tax records to a congressional committee on Tuesday and called for more briefings on the case.

Without Supreme Court intervention, the Treasury could turn over the documents to the House Ways and Means Committee as early as Thursday.

Roberts’ move appears to be designed to give the entire court more time to consider the issue. But time is not on the side of Democrats on the management committee. If the party loses control in next week’s midterm elections, as polls suggest, the need for the record is sure to expire in January, when the new Congress is sworn in and control of the committee changes hands.

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Last week, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C. Circuit declined to review an earlier ruling that lawmakers were entitled to the documents in this protracted legal battle. The court also declined to suspend the release of the documents as Trump’s lawyers sought Supreme Court review.

Justice Roberts, who was assigned to hear the court’s emergency order, suspended his release at noon on Nov. 11 and asked the committee for a response. 10. “The Ways and Means Committee stands by the law on our side and will respond promptly as requested,” a spokesman for the committee said in a statement. Its chairman, the Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), “Expect expeditious Supreme Court review.”

Temporary reservations like those issued by Roberts don’t always work. For example, last week Justice Clarence Thomas issued a suspending lower court ruling against Trump-ally senators. Lindsay O. Graham (RS.C.) testified before a Georgia grand jury investigating the efforts of Trump allies to contest the 2020 election.

But on Tuesday, the full court reversed the order, clearing the way for testimony, with no apparent dissent, not even Thomas.

The Supreme Court clears the way for senators. Graham testified in Georgia.election survey

Trump’s attorney, Cameron Norris, told the court there was not even time to consider Trump’s arguments, if not at least temporarily put the release of the documents on hold.

“The committee does not have an urgent need for applicants’ information so it can study general legislation on funding and regulating future IRS presidential audits in the future,” Norris wrote, saying the records will almost certainly be released to the public, giving Trump Common causes “irreparable damage”. “

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The Supreme Court has generally rejected Trump’s assertions that he should be allowed to keep the records private and that he is immune to the investigation while in office. The 2020 justices upheld Congress’ right to subpoena the information with certain restrictions, and last year they refused to prevent Trump from releasing financial records for the New York state investigation.

Lawmakers say they need Trump’s tax returns to help assess the effectiveness of the annual presidential audit. Trump has argued that Democratic lawmakers are on a fishing expedition designed to embarrass him politically.

“The Committee’s purpose in requesting President Trump’s tax returns has nothing to do with IRS funding or personnel issues, but rather with the release of the President’s tax information to the public,” Trump’s Supreme Court filing said.

It added: “If allowed to continue, it would undermine the separation of powers and make the Office of the President vulnerable to intrusive information requests from political opponents in the Legislative Branch. Censorship is paramount and the Court should retain its ability to grant it — not just for a “particular president,” but also for “the presidency itself.” The reference here is to a previous Supreme Court decision.

The lawsuit is unique because Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns goes against the modern tradition of presidential candidates and Oval Office occupants. Democrats began their legal battles to get them after taking over the House of Representatives in 2019.

While the case will take years to get through the courts, federal judges have consistently ruled that lawmakers established a “valid legislative purpose” required for the disclosure.

The appeals court said Trump’s status as a former president was factored into its ruling; the requirement was “least intrusive” since all former presidents from decades ago voluntarily released their tax returns. But even if Trump remained president, the court ruled that the requirement would not violate the separation of powers. The court was also unmoved by Trump’s arguments that his tax returns could be made public.

“Congressional investigations sometimes expose private information about the entities, organizations and individuals they investigate,” the panel wrote. “It doesn’t make them overly burdensome. That’s the nature of the investigative and legislative process.”

It also dismissed concerns that allowing the request would heighten tensions between Congress and the president or former presidents.

“While Congress may attempt to threaten a sitting president with intrusive demands after leaving office, every president comes into office knowing that he will be bound by the same laws upon leaving office as all other citizens,” the court order said. The characteristics of our democratic republic, not the loopholes.”

Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.


A previous version of this story incorrectly stated a deadline by which former President Donald Trump’s tax records could be submitted to Congress. It was Thursday. The version also makes clear that the House Ways and Means Committee has until Nov. 10 to respond to the Supreme Court. 10.

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