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, US, on October 22, 2022.
Go Nakamura | Reuters
Former President Donald Trump on Monday he asked the Supreme Court to block a judge’s order that the IRS give years of its tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee later this week.
The request to delay the execution of the judicial order pending a planned appeal came days Trump lost an attempt to reverse the order in a federal appeals court.
“This case raises important questions about the separation of powers that will affect any future president,” Trump’s lawyers said in their emergency request to Chief Justice John Roberts. The chief justice has authority over such petitions from cases arising from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Trump’s lawyers asked the court to act on Wednesday to delay an appeals court ruling that cleared the way for the IRS to hand over the tax returns on Thursday.
The delay would give Trump time to formally ask the high court to hear an appeal of the decision. But lawyers also said the Supreme Court could consider Monday’s filing itself a request to hear the case.
The filing accused the committee of trying to obtain Trump’s tax returns only for the purpose of releasing them to the public, and not for a review of IRS audits of presidents, like the House panel. he declared.
Trump’s attorney, William Consovoy, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If the Supreme Court grants Trump’s application, it could prevent the Democratic-controlled committee from receiving the returns for several years – at least.
A Supreme Court case challenging the order could take months or more to resolve.
And if the Republicans regain control of the majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, before the Supreme Court case is resolved, they are expected to end the three-year offer of the Committee of the Ways and Means to get Trump’s tax returns.
That committee sought Trump’s tax records and those of related business entities as part of an investigation into how the Internal Revenue Service audits presidential tax returns. The IRS, which is a division of the Treasury Department, is legally mandated to audit the annual incomes of sitting presidents.
The committee sued to obtain Trump’s federal returns for the years from 2015 to 2020 after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to comply with the committee’s request. Trump’s mandate Mnuchin said the panel has no legitimate legislative purpose.
Last December, Washington, DC, federal court judge Trevor McFadden, who was appointed by Trump, ruled that the Treasury Department had to return the tax returns as requested. McFadden said that even if the committee’s request was politically motivated, as Trump argued, his president had stated a “valid legislative purpose” to seek the returns, as required by law.
Trump then appealed McFadden’s decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
In August, a three-judge panel on that appeals court ruled unanimously against Trump.
The panel noted that while tax returns are generally confidential under federal law, an exception is when the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee requests such returns in writing from the secretary of the Treasury Department.
“The president has identified a legitimate legislative purpose that he needs the information to accomplish,” Judge David Sentelle wrote in the panel’s opinion. “At this stage, it is not our place to delve further into this.”
Then, Trump requested a re-hearing of his appeal to the same court in a so-called en banc hearing, in which most of the court’s judges consider his arguments.
On Thursday, a list of 10 judges on the appeals court unanimously rejected Trump’s request. The same group of judges denied a request by Trump to stay his denial pending his planned appeal to the Supreme Court.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal said in a statement Thursday: “The law has always been on our side. Former President Trump tried to delay the inevitable, but once again, the Court affirmed the strength of our position.”
“We’ve waited long enough — we should begin our oversight of the IRS’s mandatory presidential audit program as soon as possible,” Neal said.
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