In a new script twist in a process that has been going on for years, the US Supreme Court rejected on Tuesday to deny the delivery of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to a request by Congress to investigate them. By authorizing the delivery of the documents to the Committee of Ways and Means, the High Court deals a new setback to the Republican, investigated for other causes that since last Friday will be supervised by a special prosecutor.
Trump presented an urgent request on October 31 to prevent his tax returns from seeing the public light if, as now seems likely, the congressional committee scrutinizes them with light and stenographers. The tycoon thus sought to block the ruling of a lower court, which had previously ruled in favor of the delivery, while his lawyers filed an appeal, considering that the committee’s request — chaired by a Democratic legislator — was politically motivated. Both the ruling of the lower instance and that of the Supreme Court consider that the committee’s petition is an essential part of the legislative work. None of the nine magistrates that make up the Supreme Court, with an ultra-conservative majority, has dissented.
Today’s ruling reactivates the process opened in 2019 by the Ways and Means committee, after the president of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, decided on November 1 to temporarily block the delivery of the documents to the committee while the court considered how proceed. House Democrats have been asking for the statements for years to determine how the IRS handles its routine presidential audits, while Trump’s lawyers have argued the matter is purely political.
Trump, who was in the White House from January 2017 to January 2021, was the first president in four decades not to release tax returns. The Ways and Means committee insisted to the Supreme Court that siding with Trump would undermine constitutional authority “by effectively preventing Congress from completing any investigation involving a former president as long as there are allegations that the investigation was politically motivated.”
Presidents and vice presidents have undergone such audits since 1977. Federal tax law also requires Treasury Department officials to turn over individual tax returns upon receipt of a written request from the committee chair.
The fight over the publication of his tax data is one of the many legal fronts that Trump, who last week announced his candidacy for re-election in 2024, has open. US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced last Friday the appointment of an independent prosecutor to oversee investigations into his role in the assault on the Capitol by a horde of his followers in January 2021, as well as the irregular retention of classified documents in his Florida mansion, which the former president removed from the White House upon leaving office. There is a third, in the State of Georgia, due to the Republican’s maneuvers to reverse the result of the 2020 presidential election.
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In addition, the tycoon faces two investigations, one of a criminal nature and the other civil, in the Manhattan prosecutor’s office and the New York State prosecutor’s office for alleged tax irregularities in his emporium, the Trump Organization. The first of these has turned around this week when the prosecutor, Alvin Bragg, who inherited the case from his predecessor Cyrus Jr. Vance —both Democrats— decided to resume the investigation into the secret payment that the magnate made to a movie actress. for adults, Stormy Daniel, to silence the scandal about their relationship and not harm his political career.
In the second of the cases, the civil investigation undertaken by the office of the State Attorney General, Letitia James, also a Democrat, a New York judge has set for October 2023 the hearing of the former president, three of his adult children and the Trump Organization. James accuses the tycoon of fraudulently overvaluing the real estate company’s assets and family wealth to get tax breaks and bank loans on advantageous terms. Trump’s lawyers tried to get the lawsuit dismissed, suing James twice, to no avail, as well as repeatedly accusing the judge of bias.
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