Former President Donald Trump’s legal team filed court documents Wednesday seeking to block the Treasury Department from handing over his tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee.
“While House Democrats had offered countless justifications for obtaining the president’s tax returns, no one at the time had ever mentioned a desire to find out how the IRS audits presidents,” the filing said, according to NBC News.
“The chairman’s request bore little resemblance to an effort to investigate how the IRS audits presidents,” it added, according to CNBC. “It asked for the information of only one president, asked for open files for which audits have not been completed, and never asked the IRS for the most relevant information — namely, how it audits presidents.”
“There is no evidence of any wrongdoing here and I object to the release of the returns not only on behalf of my client but on behalf of all future holders of the office of the president of the United States,” said Ronald Fischetti, a lawyer for Trump, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Justice Department ruled on Friday that the Treasury Department must turn over Trump’s tax returns.
“The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former president’s tax information,” the opinion said, according to The New York Times.
“Treasury must furnish the information to the committee,” it added.
“The statute at issue here is unambiguous: ‘Upon written request’ of the chairman of one of the three congressional tax committees, the Secretary ‘shall furnish’ the requested tax information to the Committee,” Justice Department acting Assistant Attorney General Dawn Johnsen wrote, according to The Hill.
ABC News reported, “Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal first requested six years’ worth of Trump’s tax returns in April of 2019, in addition to tax returns for eight of Trump’s businesses, under a 97-year-old law that requires the Treasury secretary to ‘furnish’ the returns of any taxpayer to the chairman of the tax-writing panel by request.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted her support of the ruling.
“Access to former President Trump’s tax returns is a matter of national security. The American people deserve to know the facts of his conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president,” she wrote.
“The House will always fight to expose the truth,” Pelosi added.
Access to former President Trump’s tax returns is a matter of national security. The American people deserve to know the facts of his conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president.
The House will always fight to expose the truth #ForThePeople.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 30, 2021
House Democrats revived their efforts to obtain Trump’s personal financial records following a Supreme Court ruling in July.
“In assessing whether a subpoena directed at the President’s personal information is ‘related to, and in furtherance of, a legitimate task of the Congress,’ Watkins, 354 U. S., at 187, courts must take adequate account of the separation of powers principles at stake, including both the significant legislative interests of Congress and the unique position of the President,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.
“Congressional subpoenas for information from the President … implicate special concerns regarding the separation of powers. The courts below did not take adequate account of those concerns.”
The justices created a four-part test to determine whether a congressional effort to obtain personal papers from a sitting president is proper, according to Politico.
Supreme Court rulings don’t usually go into force immediately and could take weeks to take effect without intervention.
In a July filing following the court’s ruling, Douglas Letter, the House of Representative’s top lawyer, asked the Supreme Court justices to immediately effectuate the ruling so the House can ask the U.S. district court judge who initially heard the case for renewed consideration.
“The committees’ investigations are ongoing, remain urgent, and have been impeded by the lack of finality in those litigations, which were initiated in April 2019,” the filing read.
“Immediate issuance of this Court’s judgments would accelerate the proceedings in the lower courts so that the Committees may obtain the materials necessary to undertake any needed legislative reforms as quickly as possible to address, among other issues, conflicts of interest that threaten to undermine the Presidency, money-laundering and unsafe lending practices, and foreign interference in U.S. elections and any other ongoing threats to national security arising from President Trump’s foreign financial entanglements.”
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