Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has temporarily halted the disclosure of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to House Democrats.
Tuesday’s order puts the disclosure on hold while the court considers Mr. Trump’s case. Chief Justice Roberts ordered the House lawmakers to respond to Mr. Trump’s filing by Nov. 10.
Mr. Trump on Monday asked the court to block a Democrat-led House committee from accessing six years of his tax returns.
Mr. Trump filed an emergency request with the high court after a federal appeals court last week ordered the tax returns to be turned over to the House Ways and Means Committee this week.
Mr. Trump’s legal team said in their court filing that the committee is not interested in the former president’s taxes for legitimate investigative purposes, but rather a partisan probe to embarrass him.
“The committee’s purpose in requesting President Trump’s tax returns has nothing to do with funding or staffing issues at the IRS and everything to do with releasing the president’s tax information to the public,” they wrote.
Democratic lawmakers have insisted the tax returns are necessary for their investigation into the IRS’ audit processes. They say the request is a “plainly legitimate area for congressional inquiry and possible legislation.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers said Congress doesn’t wield the power to demand his tax returns, warning of “far-reaching implications” if the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s ruling stands.
“This case raises important questions about the separation of powers that will affect every future president,” they wrote.
The emergency appeal is culmination of a long-running legal battle between Mr. Trump and House Democrats that began in April 2019.
At that time, committee Chairman Richard Neal of Massachusetts asked the IRS for Mr. Trump’s tax returns along with those of his business entities. Mr. Neal said the returns were necessary for the committee’s review into how the IRS processes presidents’ tax returns.
The window for Democrats to access Mr. Trump’s tax returns may be closing. If the GOP retakes the House in Nov. 8’s midterm elections and the legal fight is not resolved by the time the Congress convenes, it is all but assured that Republicans would drop the request.
Mr. Trump has fought to block the release of his returns at every step in the process with the dispute landing at the D.C. Circuit. In August, a three-judge panel ruled that Democrats could obtain the tax returns. The former president appealed that decision to the full court, which upheld the panel’s ruling.
Under federal law, tax returns are confidential, but there are some exceptions to the rule, including one that allows the Ways and Means chairman to request the documents.
Mr. Trump, unlike other recent presidents, has refused to make his tax returns public.
In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr. Trump, who had challenged the subpoena by another Democrat-led committee for his tax records through his accounting firm.
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