The Ways and Means Committee of the US House of Representative branch of Congress has been trying since 2019 to get Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Trump was the first president in 40 years to refuse to release his tax returns. Nixon was the last to refuse.
On Tuesday, November 22, the US Supreme Court, the highest court of the land, said the congressional committee has the right to obtain the returns.
The buck stops here, as they say.
Trump asked the high court in October to block the ruling of a lower court that approved the House’s request.
The decision of the Supreme Court justices appears to be unanimous.
This means that the US Treasury will have the responsibility of delivering the tax documents for the period of 2015-2020 for Donald Trump and some of his businesses, to the House Ways and Means Committee.
The Democratically controlled committee will get access to the financial records at the last minute. The Republicans were able to take a slight lead over the Democrats in the midterm elections, and will take over control of the committee and the House of Representatives, on January 3, 2023.
The Treasury Department, controlled by the Biden administration, will likely deliver the records expeditiously, but the House committee will only have a short time to review them, and the new leadership in the House is likely to stall or even stop the investigation into Trump’s finances.
Representative Richard Neal, the chairman of the committee, said in a statement that Congress “will now conduct the oversight that we’ve sought for the last three and a half years.” It is not clear if the committee intends to release Trump’s financial records publicly.
Trump believes that the Democrats have been trying to obtain his tax returns for political reasons.
But the committee said that Congress has the right to make sure that the IRS is properly auditing candidates for president, so they can determine if any new legislation is warranted.
In another setback for Trump on Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, including two judges who were appointed by Trump, appeared to be very skeptical that Trump had a right to challenge the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago estate. They also expressed doubt that it was necessary to have an independent arbiter to review the documents that were seized.
The judges suggested that Trump appeared to be seeking “special treatment” in his request that a “special master” conduct an independent inspection of the documents taken on August 8 from Mar-a-Lago.
Judge William Pryor, appointed by President George W. Bush, said, “Other than the fact that this involves a former president, everything else about this is indistinguishable from any pre-indictment search warrant,” implying that Trump was not above-the-law.