Trump asks Supreme Court to block Congress from receiving his tax returns

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Robstown, Texas, U.S. October 22, 2022.

Go Nakamura | Reuters

Former president donald trump asked on monday The Supreme Court to block a judge’s order asking the IRS to give years of his 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 within days of Trump lost an attempt to reverse the order before a federal appeals court.

“This case raises important questions about the separation of powers that will affect every future president,” Trump’s lawyers said in their urgent application to Chief Justice John Roberts. The Chief Justice has jurisdiction over such motions arising from cases from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Trump’s lawyers asked the court to act by Wednesday to delay an appeals court ruling that paved 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 the attorneys also said the Supreme Court may consider Monday filing a motion of its own to hear the case.

The filing accused the committee of trying to obtain Trump’s tax returns solely for the purpose of making them public, not for a review of the presidents’ IRS audits, as the House panel said.

Trump’s attorney, William Consovoy, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If the Supreme Court grants Trump’s request, it could prevent the Democratic-controlled committee from receiving returns for several more years — at the very least.

A Supreme Court case challenging the order could take months or more to resolve.

And if Republicans regain control of the majority in the House of Representatives in the upcoming midterm elections, before the Supreme Court case is resolved, they should end the House of Representatives’ three-year bid. ways and means to obtain Trump’s tax returns.

This committee has searched Trump’s tax records and those of related business entities as part of an investigation into how the Internal Revenue Service verifies presidential tax returns. The IRS, which is a division of the Treasury Department, is legally mandated to audit the annual tax returns of sitting presidents.

The committee sued to obtain Trump’s federal returns for the years 2015 through 2020 after then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to comply with the committee’s request. Trump appointee Mnuchin said the panel had no legitimate legislative purpose.

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Last December in Washington, DC, Trump-appointed federal court judge Trevor McFadden ruled that the Treasury Department must turn over tax returns as requested. McFadden said that while the committee’s request was politically motivated, as Trump argued, its chairman had declared a “valid legislative purpose” in asking for 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 of that appeals court ruled unanimously against Trump.

The panel noted that while tax returns are generally confidential under federal law, one exception is when the chair of the ways and means committee requests those returns in writing from the secretary of the Treasury Department.

“The President has identified a legitimate legislative purpose for which he requires information,” Judge David Sentelle wrote in the panel’s opinion. “At this stage, it’s not up to us to go any further.”

Trump then requested a rehearing of his appeal in the same court in a so-called en banc hearing, where most of the court’s judges would consider his arguments.

On Thursday, a slate of 10 appeals court judges unanimously rejected Trump’s request. The same panel of judges denied a request by Trump to suspend his denial pending his expected Supreme Court petition.

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 confirmed the strength of our position.”

“We’ve waited long enough – we need to begin our oversight of the IRS’ mandatory presidential audit program as soon as possible,” Neal said.

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