Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily blocks House Democrats from getting Trump tax records

WASHINGTON Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday temporarily blocked the House Ways and Means Committee from receiving years of former President Donald Trump’s tax records, two days before they were to be handed over.

Roberts, in a brief order, issued an interim stay of a ruling from the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit pending further action from either him or the full court. He also ordered the Ways and Means Committee to respond to Trump’s emergency request for the Supreme Court to intervene in the long-running dispute over his tax records by November 10.

Roberts oversees emergency matters arising from the DC Circuit.

Trump on Monday went to the high court after the federal appeals court in Washington last week denied the request for the full court to reconsider the decision by a panel of three judges found that the Ways and Means Committee can win several years of tax returns.

The D.C. Circuit’s refusal to rehear the case paves the way for the IRS to hand over Trump’s tax records to a House panel, and the agency is poised to do so on Thursday.

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In an emergency request to Roberts, Trump’s lawyers said the dispute with House Democrats over the records has led to a division of power question that will affect the next president.

“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,” he said.

Trump’s legal team also told the Supreme Court that public statements from Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts who sought the records, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi indicated that their goal was to obtain the former president’s financial records to reveal “his tax information.” ” to the public for exposure”.

The legal battle between Trump and congressional Democrats stems from Neal’s request to the IRS in 2019 for several years of tax returns and related information for Trump and several of his business entities. Neal’s request was made under a federal law that allows Congress to request certain people’s tax information from the agency.

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At the time, the Treasury Department under the Trump administration refused to comply, arguing Neal’s request was not supported by legitimate legislative goals. The committee then sued the IRS and the Treasury Department to force them to hand over the records.

As this dispute is pending, President Biden considered his office Neal renewed his request, this time seeking tax returns for 2015 to 2020. The Biden administration said the Treasury Department should give a note to Congress, which the department said it intended to do.

Trump again went to court to block the release of his returns, unsuccessfully arguing that the requests from the House Democrats were unconstitutional and lacked a valid legislative purpose.

In his filing to the Supreme Court, Trump said the legal issues presented in the case were “unsettled” and warranted the high court’s review.

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“No Congress has ever used its legislative power to demand the president’s taxes,” the lawyer wrote, adding that Congress does not need Trump’s information “so it can study public law on funding and manage future IRS audits of the president.”

Trump has been in several court battles trying to shield his financial information from congressional and state investigators. In 2019, the House Oversight and Reform Committee issued a subpoena to his accounting firm, Mazars, over years of the former president’s financial records, kicking off a legal battle that ended before the Supreme Court and was sent back to lower courts. Trump and the Oversight Committee reach a settlement in September, ending the litigation.

Supreme Court too ruled in June 2020 The Manhattan district attorney can get troves of Trump’s business records and tax returns. That financial information reinstated in February 2021 after the high court again rejected Trump’s efforts to shield his records from prosecutors.

Robert Legare contributed to this report.

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