Supreme Court rejects Trump’s request to block Congress tax returns


The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for a congressional committee to review Donald Trump’s tax returns, denying the former president a last-ditch effort to prolong a legal battle that has consumed Congress and the courts for years, but declined to comment.

The judge’s brief order means the Treasury Department could quickly turn over six years of tax records for Trump and some of his companies to the House Ways and Means Committee.

No objection was recorded, and, as is often the case with emergency applications, the court gave no reason for denying Trump’s request to preserve the records.

Lawmakers say they need Trump’s tax returns from his time in office to help assess the validity of the annual presidential audit. Trump argued that Democratic lawmakers were on a fishing expedition designed to embarrass him politically.

In May 2019, the Treasury Department denied statutory and subpoena requests for President Trump’s tax returns. Right now, it’s unclear whether Democrats will get them. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

“It’s been 1,329 days since our committee sought Donald Trump’s tax returns — almost as long as the American Civil War,” the Rep. said. Bill Pascrell (DN.J.), Chairman of the House Fundraising Oversight Subcommittee. “For 1,329 days, our request under the law has been delayed, confused and blocked by Donald Trump and his aides in the administration and courts . . . The Supreme Court was right to stay out of this case.”

It was unclear when the Treasury Department would hand over the documents — a spokesman said only that the department would comply — but time was not on the side of the Democrats who run the committee. The request for the records will almost certainly expire in January, as Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in the recent midterm elections.

House General Counsel Douglas N. Letter told the justices that “delays in providing requested tax information by the Treasury Department will give committees and Congress as a whole time to complete legislative work during this Congress.” With little or no time, Congress will soon be over.”

Trump’s lawyers said that was all the more reason to grant the request to block the release of the records. “Congress has only a few days left on its legislative agenda,” attorney Cameron T. Norris said in the filing. “While a few days is long enough to improperly expose the most sensitive documents of its main political opponents, it is not long enough to properly research, draft, debate or pass legislation.”

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Last month, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declined to review an earlier ruling that lawmakers were entitled to the documents in the long-running legal battle. The court also declined to suspend the release of the documents while Trump’s lawyers seek Supreme Court review.

But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., appointed to hear the court’s emergency order, halted the release in November. 1. To require more notifications to give the High Court more time to act.

The Supreme Court has generally rejected Trump’s assertion — he’s running again for president — that he should be allowed to keep his records private and that he’s immune to investigation while in office. The 2020 justices upheld Congress’ right to subpoena that information subject to certain conditions; last year, they declined to block the release of Trump’s financial records to New York state investigators.

In arguing against the release of the records, Trump’s legal team strongly questioned the premise of the committee’s seeking information.

“The Committee’s purpose in requiring President Trump to file his tax returns was not related to IRS funding or staffing issues, but rather to release the President’s tax information to the public,” Trump’s Supreme Court filing said.

It added: “If allowed to remain, it would undermine the separation of powers and leave the Office of the President vulnerable to intrusive information requests from political opponents in the legislative branch. Review is paramount, and the Court should retain its ability to grant review — not just Against a ‘specific president’, but against ‘the presidency itself’.”

The references to “a specific president” and “the presidency itself” come from a previous Supreme Court decision concerning the president’s powers over immigrants.but this The lawsuit is unique because Trump has defied modern tradition for presidential candidates and Oval Office occupants by refusing to release his tax returns. Democrats began their legal battle after securing a majority in the House of Representatives in 2019.

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Elizabeth B. Prelogar, the deputy attorney general representing the Biden administration, told the Supreme Court that the judiciary should not get involved even if there is a political element to the congressional committee’s request.

“Throughout our nation’s history, congressional requests for information have been driven by a mix of legislative and political motivations,” she told the court in a filing. “But time and time again, this Court has rejected attempts to invalidate otherwise appropriate legislative requests on the basis of evidence of additional motive.”

She said the lower court assessed the commission’s request against criteria set by the Supreme Court Trump v. Mazarsa 2020 decision that backs Congress as Trump seeks to block the release of his records.

“Long-standing precedent in this Court precludes applicants’ subjective motives for seeking to have the court look at individual legislators behind the stated legislative purpose of the request,” she wrote. “In the exceptional circumstances of this case, the Chairman requested tax information from It is within the purview of the committee and in line with the separation of powers.”

She said the lower court judges took different approaches to finding that there was no separation of powers violation in the committee’s request, “but they all came to the same conclusion — they all thought the case was closed.”

Since 2016, President Trump has cited ongoing IRS audits as the main reason he won’t release his tax returns. (Video: Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post, Photos: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

Although the case took years to make its way through the courts, the justices have consistently ruled that lawmakers established a “valid legislative purpose” required for disclosure.

The appeals court said Trump’s status as a former president was reflected in its decision; since all previous presidents from decades ago had voluntarily released their tax returns, the requirement had “minimal impact.” But even if Trump remained president, the court held that the request would not violate the separation of powers. The court was also unimpressed by Trump’s arguments that his tax returns might be made public.

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“Congressional investigations sometimes expose private information about the entities, organizations, and individuals they investigate,” the panel wrote. “It’s not going to overburden them. 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 president.

“While Congress may attempt to threaten a sitting president with aggressive demands after leaving office, each president enters office knowing that he will leave office knowing that he will be bound by the same laws as all other citizens,” the court order said. “This is a feature of our democratic republic, not a defect.”

the case is Trump v. Method Committee.

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