Trump is asking the Supreme Court to block Congress from receiving his tax returns
Former US President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Robstown, Texas, on October 22, 2022.
Go Nakamura | Reuters
Former President donald trump asked on Monday the Supreme Court to block a judge’s order for the IRS to turn over years of its tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee later this week.
The request to delay enforcement of the court order pending a scheduled appeal came days after Trump lost an attempt to reverse the order at a federal appeals court.
“This case raises important questions about the separation of powers that will affect any future president,” Trump’s attorneys said in their summary motion to Chief Justice John Roberts. The Chief Justice has jurisdiction over such petitions from cases brought by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Trump’s attorneys are asking the court to act by Wednesday to delay an appeals court ruling that cleared the way for the IRS to file Thursday’s tax returns.
The delay would give Trump time to formally ask the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of the verdict. But the lawyers also said the Supreme Court could consider Monday’s filing itself a request to hear the case.
The filing accused the committee of attempting to obtain Trump’s tax returns solely for the purpose of release to the public and not to review presidents’ IRS audits, the House panel has found.
Trump’s attorney William Consovoy and a spokeswoman for the Ways and Means Committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
If the Supreme Court grants Trump’s request, it could prevent the Democrat-controlled committee from getting the tax returns for several more years — at least.
A Supreme Court case challenging the order could take months or more to resolve.
And if Republicans regain a majority in the House of Representatives in the upcoming midterm elections before the Supreme Court case is resolved, they are expected to end the Ways and Means Committee’s three-year attempt to obtain Trump’s tax returns.
This committee searched Trump’s tax records and those of related companies as part of an investigation into how the Presidential Internal Revenue Service reviews presidential tax returns. The IRS, a division of the Treasury Department, is required by law to audit the annual tax returns of sitting presidents.
The committee sued to obtain Trump’s federal statements for the years 2015-2020 after then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to comply with the committee’s request. Trump-appointed Mnuchin said the panel had no legitimate legislative purpose.
Last December, Trump-appointed Judge Trevor McFadden in federal court in Washington, DC, ruled that the Treasury Department must file tax returns as required. McFadden said even if the committee’s request was politically motivated, as Trump has argued, its chairman indicated a “valid legislative purpose” in seeking the returns, as required by law.
Trump then appealed McFadden’s verdict to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
In August, a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeals unanimously ruled against Trump.
The panel noted that while tax returns are generally confidential under federal law, an exception exists when the chair of the Ways and Means Committee requests such returns in writing from the Secretary of the Treasury.
“The Chair has identified a legitimate legislative purpose which requires information to be achieved,” Judge David Sentelle wrote in the panel’s opinion. “At this stage, it’s not our job to delve any deeper.”
Trump then asked for his appeal to be reheared in the same court in what is known as an en banc hearing, where most of the court’s judges would consider his arguments.
On Thursday, a list of ten appeals court judges unanimously denied Trump’s request. The same group of judges denied a request by Trump to stay his challenge pending his expected petition to the Supreme Court.
Ways and Means Committee chair Richard Neal said in a statement Thursday: “The law has always been on our side. Former President Trump has tried to delay the inevitable, but the court has once again affirmed the strength of our position.”
“We’ve waited long enough — we need to start overseeing the IRS’s mandatory audit program as soon as possible,” Neal said.
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