Chief Justice Roberts temporarily delays 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 committee and called for more information in the case.

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

Roberts’ move appears to be intended to give the full court more time to consider the issue. But time is not on the side of the Democrats who run the committee. If the party loses control in next week’s midterm elections, as polls suggest, the demand for records will likely end in January, when a new Congress is sworn in and committee control changes hands.

Democrats are on the defensive in the final phase of the midterms

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declined to review earlier rulings and found that lawmakers in the long-running legal battle were entitled to obtain the documents. The court also refused to halt the release of the documents while Trump’s lawyers go to the Supreme Court.

Roberts, the judge appointed to hear the emergency orders from that court, suspended the release and called for a response from the committee by noon on Nov. 10. is on our side, and will respond in a timely manner as requested.” Its leader, Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), “pending urgent consideration by the Supreme Court.”

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Temporary arrests like the one Roberts issued don’t always last. For example, Justice Clarence Thomas last week suspended lower court orders that Trump ally Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R.S.C.) testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating Trump allies’ efforts to contest the 2020 election. .

But on Tuesday, the full court overturned that order and allowed the testimony without significant objections, not even from Thomas.

The Supreme Court is clearing the way for Senator Graham to testify in the Ga. election investigation

Trump’s attorney, Cameron Norris, told the court that if it doesn’t at least allow time for the release of the documents, there won’t be time to even consider Trump’s argument.

“The Committee does not have an immediate need for the Petitioners’ information so it can examine the general laws regarding the financing and regulation of future IRS audits of future Presidents,” Norris wrote, adding that the records will almost certainly be made public. be released, causing Trump “irreparable harm. .

The House deal for Trump records allows the accounting firm to decide what to release

The Supreme Court has generally disagreed with Trump’s claims that he should be allowed to obtain private records and be immune from investigation while in office. Justices in 2020 upheld Congress’ right to release that information with certain limits, and last year they refused to block the release of Trump’s financial records for a New York state investigation.

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Lawmakers said they needed Trump’s tax returns from his time in office to help assess the effectiveness of the president’s annual audits. Trump argued that Democratic lawmakers were on a fishing trip designed to embarrass him politically.

“The Committee’s intent to request President Trump’s tax refund has nothing to do with financial or personnel problems at the IRS and everything to do with the release of the President’s tax information to the public,” Trump’s filing with the Supreme Court says.

He adds: “If allowed, it would undermine the separation of powers and make the office of the President vulnerable to invasive information requests by political opponents in the legislative branch. Scrutiny is critical, and the Court must preserve its ability to grant it — not just to for a ‘special President’, but also for ‘the Prime Minister himself’.” The reference is from an earlier Supreme Court decision.

The lawsuit is unique because Trump bucked the modern tradition for presidential candidates and Oval Office occupants by refusing to release their tax returns. After Democrats took over the House in 2019, they began a legal battle to impeach them.

Although the case has taken years to wind its way through the courts, federal judges have consistently ruled that lawmakers established the “valid statutory purpose” required for disclosure.


The appeals court said Trump’s status as a former president factored into its decision; since all former presidents going back decades voluntarily released their tax returns, the demand was “least intervention.” But even though Trump was still president, the court found that the request would not violate the separation of powers. The court also disagreed with Trump’s argument that his tax returns could be disclosed.

“Congressional investigations sometimes disclose information specific to the agencies, organizations, and individuals they investigate,” the panel wrote. “It doesn’t weigh them down too much. That’s the nature of investigative and legal processes.”

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

The court order stated, “Although Congress may threaten a sitting President with an impeachment motion after he leaves office, every President enters office knowing that he will be subject to the same laws as all other citizens.” quits, be.” “This is a feature of our democratic republic, not a mistake.”

Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.


An earlier version of this story misstated when former President Donald Trump’s tax records could be released to Congress. It was Thursday. This 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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