Suspension

Chief Justice John J. Roberts, Jr., on Tuesday, temporarily halted the release of former President Donald Trump’s tax records to a congressional committee, and called for more briefing on the case.

Without the Supreme Court’s intervention, the Treasury could have turned over the documents to the House Ways and Means Committee as early as Thursday.

Roberts’ action appears to be intended to give the full court more time to consider the case. But time is not on the side of the Democrats running the committee. If the party loses control in next week’s midterm elections, polls suggest, the demand for records will almost certainly end in January, when a new Congress is sworn in and control of the committee will change.

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Last week, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit refused to review previous rulings that concluded that lawmakers were entitled to obtain the documents in the long-running legal battle. The court also refused to suspend the release of the papers while Trump’s lawyers requested a Supreme Court review.

Roberts, the judge tasked with hearing emergency orders from that court, halted the release and called for a response from the commission by noon on November 10. appropriate as required. Its president, Representative Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), “looks forward to the Supreme Court’s urgent consideration.”

Temporary reservations like those issued by Roberts don’t always stick. For example, Judge Clarence Thomas last week issued a stay of lower court rulings made by Trump ally Senator Lindsey O’Graham (RS.C) testifying before a Georgia grand jury investigating Trump allies’ efforts to run for the 2020 election.

But on Tuesday, the full court overturned that order and cleared the way for testimony without any noticeable opposition, not even from Thomas.

Supreme Court clears way for Senator Graham to testify in election inquiry

Trump’s attorney Cameron Norris told the court that if she didn’t at least temporarily halt the release of the documents, she wouldn’t even have time to consider Trump’s argument.

“The committee has no compelling need for applicant information to be able to consider public legislation about the financing and organization of future IRS audits of future presidents,” Norris wrote, noting that the records would almost certainly be released to the public, causing Trump’s “irreparable harm.” “. “

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The Supreme Court has generally not accepted Trump’s assertions that he should be allowed to keep his own records and that he is immune from investigation while in office. Judges in 2020 upheld Congress’ right to subpoena that information with some limitations, and last year refused to block the release of Trump’s financial records for the New York State investigation.

Lawmakers said they need Trump’s tax returns from his time in office to help assess the effectiveness of annual presidential audits. Trump has argued that Democratic lawmakers are on a hunting trip designed to embarrass him politically.

Trump’s Supreme Court filing states that “the committee’s purpose of requesting President Trump’s tax returns has nothing to do with the financing or employment of the IRS, and everything to do with the release of the president’s tax information to the public.”

He adds, “If allowed to stand, it would undermine the separation of powers and make the office of the presidency vulnerable to invasive information demands from political opponents in the legislature. Review is of paramount importance, and the Court must maintain its ability to grant it—not only to a ‘certain president’, but Also for “the presidency itself.” Referring to a previous ruling of the Supreme Court.

The lawsuit is unique because Trump defied the modern tradition of presidential candidates and Oval Office occupants by refusing to release his tax returns. Democrats began the legal battle to get them after taking over the House in 2019.

Although the case has taken years to move through the courts, federal judges have consistently determined that lawmakers have set the “correct legislative purpose” required for disclosure.

The appeals court said Trump’s standing as a former president was contained in its decision; Since all previous presidents going back decades voluntarily issued their own tax returns, the request was a “minor interference.” But even if Trump was still president, the court found that the request would not violate the separation of powers. The court was also unimpressed by Trump’s argument that his tax returns might become public.

“Congressional investigations sometimes reveal private information to the entities, organizations, and individuals they investigate,” the committee wrote. “That doesn’t make it too onerous. It is the nature of the investigation and legislation processes.”

It also dismissed concerns that allowing the request would stoke tensions between Congress and the president — or a former president.

“Whereas it is possible that Congress may attempt to threaten the incumbent with an unjust order after leaving office, every president shall take office knowing that he will be subject to the same laws as all other citizens upon leaving office,” the court order read. “This is a feature of our democratic republic, not a mistake.”

Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.

revision

An earlier version of this story missed the deadline by which former President Donald Trump’s tax records could be turned over to Congress. It was Thursday. This release also states that the House Ways and Means Committee must respond to the Supreme Court by November 10.

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