trump asks supreme court to block the house from obtaining his tax returns

Trump Asks Supreme Court to Block the House From Obtaining His Tax Returns

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WASHINGTON — Former President Donald J. Trump asked the Supreme Court on Monday to intervene in the long-running dispute over whether a House committee can obtain access to his tax returns.

In a 31-page filing, lawyers for Mr. Trump asked Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to freeze matters while they prepare a formal appeal of a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which held that the House Ways and Means Committee had a right to see his returns.

If the Supreme Court does not grant the request for an emergency stay, the appeals court would issue a so-called mandate completing its ruling on Wednesday, which would free the Treasury Department to turn over the records.

Whether the Supreme Court decides to extend a judicial order that has blocked the Treasury Department from complying with the request while the matter was litigated before the appeals court could effectively decide whether the House committee obtains the documents, which it has sought since 2019.

That is because if Republicans retake control of the House in the midterm elections next week, as polls indicate is likely, they are almost certain to drop the request when the new Congress is seated in January. Mr. Trump has pursued a strategy of using the slow pace of litigation to run out the clock on oversight efforts, which he has done since he was president.

In the filing, however, Mr. Trump’s legal team argued that a further delay would not harm the House. It noted that the House revisited its request in January 2021, when the current Congress was seated, ignoring the political reality that while party control of the chamber stayed the same, it was likely to change after the 2022 midterms.

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“Even if the committee’s request were not fulfilled by the end of the current congressional term, it could carry over into later terms (as it already has) and inform the committee’s work then,” the Trump legal team’s filing said.

The case traces to the 2016 election, when Mr. Trump broke with modern precedent by refusing to make his returns public. In 2019, after Democrats took over the House, they began trying to investigate his hidden finances.

Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, requested Mr. Trump’s tax returns, citing a federal law that gives his panel the authority to see any taxpayer’s documents. But the Trump administration refused to let the Treasury Department turn over the records.

In July 2019, the House filed a lawsuit seeking to enforce its request. But the Federal District Court judge to whom the case was assigned, Trevor N. McFadden, a Trump appointee, did not make any ruling until December 2021.

In the interim, the Biden administration had taken office and Mr. Neal had issued a renewed request for Mr. Trump’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020, saying the committee was studying a program that audits presidents. Under the Biden administration, the Justice Department also issued a memorandum saying the committee had a legal right to obtain the records.

When he finally issued a decision, Judge McFadden agreed the committee had a legal right to obtain the records. Mr. Trump appealed, and in August a panel on the D.C. Circuit upheld Judge McFadden’s decision. Mr. Trump asked the full D.C. Circuit to re-hear the case.

But last week, it declined to do so, setting the stage for Mr. Trump to turn to the Supreme Court.