Chief Justice Roberts temporarily delays release of Trump tax records

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

Without the intervention of the Supreme Court, the files could have been handed over to the House Ways and Means Committee as early as Thursday.

Last week, the full United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit declined to review earlier rulings finding lawmakers had a right to the documents in the long legal battle. The court also said it would not hold publication of the documents while Trump’s lawyers seek a Supreme Court review.

Roberts, the judge assigned to hear that court’s emergency orders, suspended the release and requested a response from the committee by noon Nov. 10. A spokeswoman for the committee said in a statement: ‘The Ways and Means Committee maintains the law is on our side and will table a prompt response as requested. President [Richard E.] Neal (D-Ma.) looks forward to the Supreme Court’s speedy review. »

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

“The Committee does not urgently need information about the nominees so that it can study generic legislation on funding and regulating future IRS audits of future presidents,” Norris wrote, saying the release of the records would cause Trump “irreparable harm.”

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The Supreme Court has generally not been receptive to Trump’s claims that he should be allowed to keep private records and that he was immune from investigation while in office. In 2020, judges upheld Congress’s right to subpoena such information with certain limitations, and last year declined to block the release of Trump’s financial records for a New York state investigation.

Lawmakers have said they need Trump’s tax returns from his tenure to help gauge the effectiveness of annual presidential audits. Trump argued that Democratic lawmakers were on a fishing expedition meant to embarrass him politically.

“As a supposed attempt to study the presidential audit program, the Committee’s request was far from targeted,” its Supreme Court filing states. “President Trump was not subject to this program for half of the tax years of the original application, and none of the business entities in the application ever were. The request also sought to study a program that covered every president and vice president since 1977 by requesting information relating to a single individual.

But federal judges have consistently ruled that lawmakers established the “valid legislative purpose” required for disclosure.

The appeals court said Trump’s status as a former president figured in its decision; since all previous presidents dating back decades had voluntarily released their tax returns, the request was “little intrusive.” But even if Trump was still president, the court ruled that the request would not violate the separation of powers. The court was also unmoved by Trump’s argument that his tax returns could become public.

“Congressional investigations sometimes expose the private information of the entities, organizations, and individuals they investigate,” the panel wrote. “It doesn’t make them too heavy. This is the nature of investigative and legislative processes.

Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.

correction

An earlier version of this story misrepresented the deadline by which former President Donald Trump’s tax records could be turned over to Congress. It is Thursday. He also clarified that the deadline for a response from the committee is November 10.