The Democrat-led House Ways and Means Committee has been seeking former President Donald Trump’s tax records since 2019 and they are now on the verge of obtaining them, albeit with only little more than a month to go before control of the committee is transferred over to the Republicans.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court declined to intervene in an emergency appeal by Trump to block a lower court’s order for the Treasury Department to hand over the long sought-after tax records of the former president to the powerful committee, the Washington Examiner reported.
House Dems to finally receive Trump tax records
House Democrats have demanded that the IRS and Treasury Department turn over roughly six years’ worth of both personal and business tax returns and related documents for former President Trump, ostensibly as part of an effort to legislatively reform an IRS program that audits presidents and vice presidents while serving in office.
Trump’s attorneys have countered throughout the years-long legal dispute that the committee Democrats have no real legislative purpose and instead only want to obtain his tax records in order to selectively publicize them in a manner intended to harm him politically.
In December 2021, a district court ruled in favor of the committee, and that ruling was subsequently upheld by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Trump asked the full D.C. Circuit to reconsider the matter but was denied, and thus turned to the Supreme Court with an emergency appeal for it to block and reverse the lower court’s ruling.
However, following a temporary stay issued on Nov. 1 by Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversees matters in the D.C. Circuit, Roberts on Tuesday vacated the prior temporary stay and denied Trump’s request without any noted dissent from any of the other members of the high court.
Limited time for Democrats to act
“We knew the strength of our case, we stayed the course, followed the advice of counsel, and finally, our case has been affirmed by the highest court in the land,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement on Tuesday. “This rises above politics, and the Committee will now conduct the oversight that we’ve sought for the last three and a half years.”
Though the Examiner noted that this ruling means the IRS and Treasury Department could immediately hand over the requested tax documents to the Democrat-led committee, The Hill reported that it was unknown how quickly the administration would act in that regard.
Furthermore, House Republicans have made it clear that they intend to withdraw the request for Trump’s tax records once they take over the committee in January and have no intentions of moving forward with the investigative effort launched by their Democratic colleagues.
Court’s inaction opened “dangerous new political battleground”
“The Supreme Court has no idea what their inaction unleashes,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the ranking Republican on the committee, said in a statement. “By effectively granting the majority party in either chamber of Congress nearly unlimited power to target and make public the tax returns of political enemies — political figures, private citizens, or even justices of the Supreme Court themselves — they are opening a dangerous new political battleground where no citizen is safe.”
“The Court’s approval of Democrats’ flimsy guise of ‘reviewing presidential audit procedures’ turns on its head the current law protecting citizens against Congress using the IRS as a political weapon,” he added. “No party in Congress should hold this dangerous power. I hope lawmakers who value the privacy of tax returns act to close this massive loophole the courts have created.”
As noted, it remains to be seen how quickly the requested records will be turned over to committee Democrats, to say nothing of whether those Democrats will even have time to even pretend to make good on their legislative purpose vows or if they will simply prove Trump correct by blatantly and vindictively releasing those otherwise confidential records to the general public.