Chief Justice Roberts Delays Giving House Panel Trump’s Tax Returns

Chief Justice John Roberts stopped, for now, a congressional committee from getting the tax returns of former President Donald Trump on Tuesday. Roberts’s order gives the Supreme Court time to consider the legal questions in Trump’s Monday emergency appeal to the high court.

If the court hadn’t stepped in, the Treasury Department could have given the tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, which is controlled by Democrats, as early as Thursday.

Roberts told the committee that they could reply by Nov. 10. From the nation’s capital, where the fight over Trump’s taxes has been going on since 2019, the chief justice handles emergency appeals.

Lower courts said that the committee has a lot of power to get Trump’s tax returns and didn’t believe that it was going too far.

If Trump can get the highest court in the country to get involved in this case, he might be able to put off a final decision until January, when the new Congress takes office. If Republicans win the House back in the fall election, they could stop asking for the records.

Roberts’ temporary delay is the third time in recent days that justice has done something like this in a case involving Donald Trump.

The court is also thinking about Sen. Lindsey Graham’s emergency request to not have to testify before a Georgia grand jury. The grand jury is looking into whether Trump and his allies did anything illegal to affect the 2020 election in Georgia.

Also in front of the court is an emergency request from Kelli Ward, chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, to stop the House committee investigating the uprising at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 from getting phone records.

In 2019, the House Ways and Means Committee and its chair, Democrat Richard Neal of Massachusetts, asked for Trump’s tax returns as part of an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s audit program and whether the former president followed tax laws. According to federal law, the Internal Revenue Service “shall provide” the tax returns of any taxpayer to a few top lawmakers.

During the Trump administration, the Justice Department backed the decision by then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin not to give Congress Trump’s tax returns. Mnuchin said that he could keep the documents from the Democrats because he thought that was why they wanted them. A lawsuit ensued.

After Joe Biden became president, the committee asked again for Trump’s tax returns and more information from 2015 to 2020. The White House said that the request was valid and that the Treasury Department had no choice but to agree. Trump then went to court to try to stop the transfer of power.

As part of a criminal investigation, Manhattan’s District Attorney at the time, Cyrus Vance Jr., got copies of both Trump’s personal and business tax records. This case also went to the Supreme Court, which didn’t agree with Trump’s claim that being president gave him broad immunity.

Trump had most recently asked the justices to help him solve a legal problem that started when his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida was searched in August. The court said no to that case.

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