Trump tax returns can go to House committee, appellate court rules

The House Ways and Means Panel and its chairman first requested Trump’s tax returns in 2019.

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Tuesday sided with a House committee seeking access to former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, dismissing Trump’s claim that Congress overstepped.

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit approved a junior judge’s decision in favor of Congress. US District Judge Trevor McFadden — a former Justice Department official and Trump appointee — decided in December that the Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee has broad powers to request the records and that the Treasury should submit tax returns to the Committee.

The three judges of the Court of Appeals agreed.

“The Trump parties claim that the Chairman’s request exceeds the investigative powers of Congress. It doesn’t,” the judges wrote. Two of the judges, David Sentelle and Karen Henderson, were appointed by President Ronald Reagan and one, Robert Wilkins, by President Barack Obama.

In their ruling, the judges also rejected Trump’s argument that the request was problematic in part because it did not include a promise to keep the recordings confidential.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Trump would appeal or if there would be a resolution to the case before a new Congress takes office in January. If Republican take back control of the house In the fall elections, they could drop the request for records next year.

The judges’ decision came as the former president remains embroiled in litigation. On Monday the The FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida as part of an investigation into whether he took secret notes from the White House.

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 investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s audit program and the former president’s compliance with tax laws. A federal law states that the Internal Revenue Service is to “deliver” the returns of all taxpayers to a handful of senior lawmakers.

“We have followed the court proceedings with great patience, and our position has once again been affirmed by the courts,” Neal said in a statement. “I am pleased that this long-awaited statement makes it clear that the law is on our side as we receive the tax returns as we begin monitoring the IRS’s mandatory audit program.” The committee said on Twitter it expects the requested documents to receive “immediately”.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the decision “an important victory for the rule of law.”

An email to Trump’s lawyers was not immediately answered.

The Justice Department under the Trump administration had defended a decision by then Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to withhold tax returns from Congress. Mnuchin argued that he was able to withhold the documents because he concluded they were wanted by Democrats on partisan grounds. A court case followed.

After President Joe Biden took office, the committee renewed the request, asking for Trump’s 2015-2020 tax returns and additional information. The White House took the position that the request was valid and the Treasury Department had no choice but to comply. Trump then tried to stop the handover in court.

Then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. receive copies of Trump’s personal and business tax records as part of a criminal investigation. Trump tried to prevent his accountants from turning over the documents and took the matter to the Supreme Court. That Judges rejected Trump’s argument that he enjoyed extensive immunity as president. The job of District Attorney has since been taken over by Alvin Bragg and The prosecutors responsible for the investigation have resignedbut Bragg said so Investigations are ongoing. Trump tax returns can go to House committee, appellate court rules

Laura Coffey

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