Supreme Court denies Trump request to block tax returns from Congress

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for a congressional committee to examine Donald Trump’s tax returns, rejecting without comment the former president’s latest efforts to prolong a legal battle that has consumed Congress and the courts for years.

The court’s summary order means the Treasury Department can immediately turn over six years of tax returns from Trump and some of his companies to the House Ways and Means Committee.

No objections were filed and, as with the expedited filings, the court did not give a reason for denying Trump’s request to withhold the records.

Lawmakers have said they need tax returns from Trump’s time in office to help assess the effectiveness of annual presidential audits. Trump has argued that Democratic lawmakers are on a fishing expedition to embarrass him politically.

In May 2019, the Treasury Department denied a subpoena and subpoena for President Trump’s tax returns. Now, it is not clear whether the 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 like the American Civil War,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight. “And for 1,329 days, our constitutional petition has been delayed, obfuscated and blocked by Donald Trump and his aides in government and the courts. . . . The Supreme Court is right to stay out of this case.”

It’s not clear when the Treasury Department will turn over the documents — a spokeswoman said only that the department will follow up — but time is not on the side of Democrats who control the committee. The records requirements would expire in January, when Republicans take control of the House in the recent midterm elections.

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Douglas N., Chief Counsel of the House of Representatives. Letter told the justices that “Treasury’s delay in providing the requested tax information leaves little or no time for the Committee and Congress to complete the legislative work of the entire Congress, which is nearing the end of Congress. “

Trump’s attorneys said that was more reason to grant the request to block the release of the records. “There are only a few days left in the legislative calendar of Congress,” attorney Cameron Norris said in his filing. “A few days are enough to improperly leak the most sensitive documents of a major political opponent, but not enough to properly research, draft, debate or pass legislation.”

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Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declined to review previous rulings that found lawmakers entitled to documents in a long-running legal battle. That court also refused to release the documents when Trump’s lawyers sought a Supreme Court review.

But the chief judge of the court assigned to hear the emergency orders of that court, John G. Roberts Jr. stayed the release on Nov. 1, asking for more information and more time for the Supreme Court to act.

The Supreme Court has generally rejected claims that Trump, who is running for president again, should be allowed to keep his records private and that he is not immune from investigation while in office. In 2020, the courts upheld the right of Congress to subpoena this information if certain conditions were met; last year they refused to block the release of Trump’s financial records to New York state investigators.

In challenging the release of the records, Trump’s legal team strongly questioned the committee’s rationale for seeking the information.

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“The committee’s purpose in requesting President Trump’s tax returns has nothing to do with funding or staffing issues at the IRS and the release of the president’s tax information to the public,” Trump’s filing with the Supreme Court said.

He adds, “If allowed to stand, it would undermine the separation of powers and make the office of the President vulnerable to invasive information demands from political opponents in the legislative branch. Review is essential, and the Court should retain the ability to grant it—not just to “a particular President,” but also to “the President himself.”

The references to “President Extraordinary” and “the President himself” are taken from a previous Supreme Court decision that included the president’s immigration powers. but it’s The lawsuit is unique because Trump broke with modern convention for presidential candidates and Oval Office holders by refusing to publicly release his tax returns. Democrats have launched a legal battle to get them after winning a majority in the House in 2019.

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Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar, a representative of the Biden administration, told the Supreme Court that while there are political elements in the congressional committee’s request, the judicial branch should not get involved.

“Throughout our nation’s history, Congressional requests for information have been motivated by a mix of legislative and political reasons,” he said in the court filing. “However, time and time again, this Court has rejected attempts to overrule other related statutory claims based on evidence of secondary causes of action.”

According to him, the lower courts evaluated the committee’s request according to the standards set by the Supreme Court. Trump v. MazarsA 2020 congressional decision to block the release of Trump’s own records.

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“This Court’s long-standing precedent rejects petitioners’ attempts to make courts consider the subjective motivations of individual legislators as the legislative purpose of a petition,” he wrote. “In the special circumstances of this case, the Chairman’s request for tax information from the applicants is within the authority of the Committee and is in accordance with the division of powers.”

He said lower court judges took different approaches to finding that the committee’s request did not violate the separation of powers, but “they all came to the same conclusion — and none of them thought the case was particularly close.”

Since 2016, President Trump has cited IRS audits as the main reason he has not released his tax returns. (Video: Monika Akhtar/Washington Post, Photo: Salwan George/Washington Post)

Although the case has moved through the courts, those judges have consistently ruled that lawmakers have established a “valid statutory purpose” for the disclosure.

According to the appeals court, Trump’s status as a former president qualified his decision; Since all previous presidents have voluntarily released their tax returns for decades, the request was “minimally intrusive.” But even if Trump is still president, the court ruled that the request does not violate the separation of powers. The court was also unmoved by Trump’s argument that his tax returns could be leaked.

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“Congressional investigations sometimes disclose personal information about the agencies, organizations, and individuals they investigate,” the commission wrote. “It doesn’t make them overly burdensome. This is the nature of investigative and legislative processes.”

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

“While Congress may seek to threaten the president with invasive requests after leaving office, every president enters office knowing that he or she will be subject to the same laws as any other citizen after leaving office,” the court order said. “This is a feature of our democratic republic, not a fault.”

is work Committee on Ways and Means Against Trump.

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