A federal appeals court ruled the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee could acquire former President Donald Trump’s tax records on Tuesday. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s three-judge panel unanimously upheld last year’s district court’s decision.
The justices’ 28-page ruling held that U.S. Code 26 U.S. § 6103 gives a House committee chairperson absolute authority to request Trump’s tax records despite his status as an ex-president. Moreover, the U.S. Treasury Department should release the documents.
Trump’s arguments were dismissed. He claimed that the committee was overstepping, and they failed to promise the tax records would be kept confidential were reasons for several years of his Internal Revenue Service documents to be kept out of Congressional hands, reported The Dallas Morning News.
During his presidency, the Treasury Department refused to hand over the records. “When Joe Biden took office last year, the department determined that a renewed request from the House Ways and Means Committee, which said that it was studying a program that audits presidents, was valid,” according to The New York Times.
Former president Trump’s failure to uphold the modern precedent of presidential candidates releasing tax records prompted Congress’ formal request. Trump’s refusal to make his tax records public started in 2016 and continued after his inauguration. During the first two years, the Republican-majority House refused to consider forcing him to comply. Still, when Democrats took the majority in 2018, they began investigating Trump using Congressional oversight powers.
Trump’s legal team continued to proclaim that his executive privilege precluded investigation and prosecution. In 2019, the House tried to force the issue by filing a lawsuit with the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia to compel Trump to comply.
However, the Trump-appointed judge, Trevor N. McFadden, delayed his making a ruling for nearly two and half years. Despite his warning to the committee that it was not wise to make Trump’s tax returns public, Judge McFadden ruled the law entitled the House committee could access the records. Federal law says the Treasury must deliver the documents of any taxpayer to top lawmakers — the phrase any taxpayer includes elected officials.
“The stagnant case was reinvigorated after Mr. Trump left office last year,” reported The New York Times. As a result, ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) filed a new request for Trump’s 2015 to 2020 tax documents.
Unless the Treasury Department quickly complies, Tuesday’s appellate court ruling could be moot if Democrats lose the majority in the Nov. 8, 2022, election. Furthermore, the Trump legal team will likely file a stay against releasing his tax records since they vowed to fight fiercely against the Congressional effort. Americans should not be surprised that the former president will extend the delay by taking this to the Supreme Court. Since SCOTUS is on break, he would be shielded from Congressional scrutiny of his taxes until next year.
Coming off a post-CPAC high, Trump was reminded on Monday morning that the United States Department of Justice is actively investigating him. The following day, three appellate judges —two Republican and one Democrat-appointed — ruled against his attempt to block Congress.
The CPAC unofficial straw poll revealed the former president remains favored as the 2024 presidential nominee among conservatives — at least among attendees. “He’s more popular than ever,” declared Trump pollster Jim McLaughlin, according to CNN.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to collect campaign donations but remains aloof when asked if he will seek another presidential term. However, his message has shifted from ‘I might run” to when he should officially declare himself a candidate.
Other Republican potential presidential hopefuls seem as though they are waiting on Trump’s announcement: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott. Potential Republican candidates include former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and more.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The Dallas Morning News: Congress can get Trump tax records, federal appeals court rules
NBC News: Federal court rules that House committee can access Trump’s tax records; by Zoe Richards
The New York Times: Ruling Upholds House Panel’s Request for Trump Tax Returns; by Charlie Savage
CNN: Trump wins CPAC straw poll in Dallas; by Michael Warren
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