Chief Justice Roberts temporarily delayed the release of Trump tax records


Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Tuesday temporarily halted the release of former President Donald Trump’s tax records to a congressional panel and called for further clarification in the case.

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

Roberts’ move appears intended to give the full court more time to consider the issue. But the Democrats who run the committee don’t have time. If the party loses control in next week’s by-elections, According to the surveyThe registration requirement is set to expire in January, when a new Congress is sworn in and control of the board changes hands.

Democrats are fighting a defensive posture in the final stretch of the midterms

Last week, the full US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Reconsideration refused Previous judgments have found that legislators Documents are entitled In a protracted legal battle. When Trump’s lawyers sought a Supreme Court review, the court refused to stay the release of the documents.

Judge Roberts, appointed to hear the court’s emergency orders, stayed publication and called for a response from the committee on the afternoon of November 10. A spokesperson for the group said in a statement, “The Ways and Means group maintains the law. We are on our side and will file a timely response as requested. Its chairman, Representative Richard E. Neill (D-Mass.) “looks forward to swift Supreme Court review.”

Temporary grips like the one offered by Roberts don’t always stick. For example, Justice Clarence Thomas last week accused Trump ally Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R.S.C.) blocked lower court rulings from testifying before a Georgia grand jury investigating Trump associates’ efforts to contest the 2020 election.

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But on Tuesday, the full court quashed the order and Cleared the way for testimony Not even from Thomas, not without noted differences of opinion.

Ga. In the election investigation Sen. The Supreme Court allowed Graham to testify

Trump’s attorney is Cameron Norris told the court Without at least a temporary ban on the release of the documents, there won’t be time to even consider Trump’s argument.

“The committee does not have an urgent need for the applicants’ information so it can read the common law about funding and regulating future IRS audits of future presidents,” Norris wrote, adding that the release of the records would certainly be made public and would cause Trump “irreparable harm.”

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The Supreme Court generally disagreed with Trump’s claim that he should be allowed to keep the records private and immune from investigation while in office. Judges in 2020 He asserted the rights of the Congress Last year, New York State refused to block the release of Trump’s financial records for the investigation, subject to some limitations on the release of that information.

Lawmakers have said Trump needs tax returns from his time in office to help assess the effectiveness of annual presidential audits. Trump argued that Democratic lawmakers were engaged in a fishing trip to embarrass him politically.

“The committee’s purpose in requesting President Trump’s tax returns has nothing to do with financial or personnel issues at the IRS and everything to do with the public release of the president’s tax information,” Trump said in the Supreme Court filing.

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It added: “If allowed to stand, it would undermine the separation of powers and leave the office of the president vulnerable to aggressive information requests from political opponents in the legislative branch. Review is so important that the court must preserve the ability to grant it – not just to a ‘particular president’ but to the ‘presidency’. ” The reference is to an earlier Supreme Court judgment.

The case is unique because Trump broke with modern tradition for presidential candidates and Oval Office occupants by refusing to make his tax returns public. After taking over the House in 2019, Democrats launched a legal battle to get them back.

Although the case took years to go through the courts, federal judges are available He continued to rule Legislators established a “valid legislative intent” that required disclosure.

The appeals court cited Trump’s status as a former president in its decision; The request was “minimally intrusive” because all presidents dating back decades had voluntarily released their tax returns. But even if Trump is still president, the court found that the request does not violate the separation of powers. The court was also unmoved by Trump’s argument that his tax returns could be made public.

“Congressional investigations sometimes expose private information about the companies, organizations and individuals they investigate,” the committee wrote. “It doesn’t overburden them. It’s the nature of the investigative and legislative processes.

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

“Congress may attempt to threaten a sitting president with an invasion claim after he leaves office, each president taking office knowing that he will be subject to the same laws as other citizens when he leaves office,” the court’s order said. “This is a feature of our democratic republic, not a bug.”

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Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.


An earlier version of this story misstated the deadline for the release of former President Donald Trump’s tax records to Congress. It was Thursday. The version also makes it clear that the House Ways and Means Committee must respond to the Supreme Court by November 10.

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