President Donald Trump arrives to address the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 24, 2019.
Carlos Allegri | Reuters
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an offer by the former president donald trump to prevent Congress from obtaining its federal tax returns and those of related business entities from the IRS.
The ruling sets the stage for the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee to secure Trump’s tax returns in the weeks before the Republicans take majority control of the House.
GOP lawmakers have vowed to end the committee’s quest to obtain the records and related investigation into how the Internal Revenue Service verifies the tax returns of sitting presidents.
Tuesday’s Supreme Court order, which found no dissent from any judge, comes more than three months after a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Washington, DC, ruled this the ways and means committee had the right to obtain Trump’s tax returns.
On October 27, the entire appeals court denied Trump’s request that the full slate of judges on that court rehear his appeal.
Trump then asked the Supreme Court on Oct. 31 to block the committee from obtaining his tax returns.
In that filing, Trump’s attorneys wrote, “This case raises important questions about the separation of powers that will affect every future president.”
Tuesday’s brief response from the Supreme Court denied Trump’s request to suspend lower court rulings that paved the way for the committee to seek its feedback.
In April 2019, the Ways and Means Committee first asked the Treasury Department for the federal tax returns of Trump and the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, as well as those of seven limited liability companies linked to the former president, one of which does not. business as Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump was president at the time of this request.
Federal law requires the Treasury Department and the IRS to issue tax returns when the Ways and Means, or two other congressional committees that oversee tax matters, request them.
But then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was appointed by Trump, refused to comply with the request for his tax returns, saying the committee had no legitimate legislative purpose.
The committee then took legal action to force the Treasury to hand over the returns.
after the president Joe Biden, a Democrat, defeated Trump in the 2020 election, committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., renewed his request for tax returns, with additional details about why the panel wanted them. Neal said the committee, in addition to looking at how tax laws apply to chairs, would also consider a chair’s potential conflicts of interest.
The Treasury Department said in mid-2021 it would release the statements, citing an opinion from department attorneys. They concluded that Neal’s request was valid and that the Treasury had a legal obligation to comply.
Trump then retaliated to prevent the returns from being handed over, arguing that the request both violated the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government and that the request had no legitimate purpose.
On December 14, Washington federal court judge Trevor McFadden ruled against Trump, saying the committee was entitled to the returns.
“A long line of cases before the Supreme Court warrants great deference to two seemingly valid congressional inquiries. Even the special concern given to former presidents does not alter the outcome,” McFadden wrote.
“The committee need only state a valid legislative objective,” McFadden wrote. “He did it.”
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