WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to be turned over to a congressional committee after a three-year legal battle.
The court, without comment, rejected Trump’s petition for an order that would prevent the Treasury Department from turning over six years of tax returns for Trump and some of his businesses to the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee .
This is Trump’s second defeat in the Supreme Court in as many months and third this year. In October, the court declined to step in the legal battle surrounding an FBI search of Trump’s Florida estate that turned up classified documents.
In January, the court refused to block the National Archives from handing over documents to the House committee investigating the January 6 Uprising at the Capitol. Justice Clarence Thomas was the only vote in favor of Trump.
In a dispute over his tax returns, the Treasury Department refused to provide records during Trump’s presidency. But the Biden administration said federal law is clear that the committee has the authority to examine the returns of any taxpayer, including the president.
Lower courts agreed that the committee had broad authority to obtain tax returns and rejected Trump’s claims that it was redundant and only wanted the documents so they could be made public.
Chief Justice John Roberts granted a temporary stay on Nov. 1 to allow the court to weigh the legal issues raised by Trump’s lawyers and counter arguments from the administration and the House of Representatives.
Just three weeks later, the court vacated Roberts’ order without dissent.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The House opposed an order preventing the IRS from providing tax returns, which would leave lawmakers “little or no time to accomplish their legislative work during this Congress, which is expiring soon.”
If Trump had persuaded the nation’s highest court to intervene, he could have run out the clock on the committee with Republicans set to take control of the House in January. If the issue had not been resolved by then, they would almost certainly have dropped the records request.
The House Ways and Means panel and its chairman, Democrat Richard Neal of Massachusetts, first requested Trump’s tax returns in 2019 as part of an Internal Revenue Service audit program and investigation into tax law compliance by the former president. was. A federal law says the Internal Revenue Service will “submit” any taxpayer’s returns to a handful of top lawmakers.
Under the Trump administration, the Justice Department defended then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decision to withhold tax returns from Congress. Mnuchin argued that he could withhold the documents because he concluded that they were being sought by Democrats for partisan reasons. Litigation ensued.
After President Joe Biden took office, the committee renewed the request, seeking Trump’s tax returns and additional information from 2015-2020. The White House took the position that the request was valid and that the Treasury Department had no choice but to comply. After this, Trump tried to stop the handover in court.
Then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. obtained copies of Trump’s personal and business tax records as part of a criminal investigation. That case also went to the Supreme Court, which rejected Trump’s argument that he enjoyed broad immunity as president.