The federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a congressional panel can obtain former President Donald Trump‘s tax returns from the IRS, a move Mr. Trump has fought for years.
The ruling came as a result of a lawsuit by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, Massachusetts Democrat, to force the IRS to hand over the documents.
Despite the expectation that Mr. Trump will appeal the 3-0 ruling and the case will continue, the panel quickly celebrated the legal victory.
The committee wrote on its Twitter page that they “expect to receive the requested tax returns and audit files immediately,” while Mr. Neal said in a statement that the court’s opinion “makes clear the law is on our side.”
“When we receive the returns, we will begin our oversight of the IRS’s mandatory presidential audit program,” he said.
A lawyer for Mr. Trump didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ruling came the day after Mr. Trump‘s South Florida Mar-a-Lago home was searched by the FBI in what is thought to be part of an investigation into classified documents being illegally taken from the White House at the end of his presidency.
Republicans were largely quiet about the ruling, instead rallying around Mr. Trump to slam the FBI search as an abuse of power and vowing to use their investigatory authorities if the party retakes control of either chamber of Congress.
Mr. Neal is seeking years of Mr. Trump‘s tax returns under a law that allows the committee to obtain any individual’s tax information.
Circuit Judge David Sentelle, a Reagan appointee who wrote the majority opinion, stated that the congressional request “has not clearly gone beyond the scope of the Committee’s inquiry.” He also rebutted arguments made by Mr. Trump that complying with such a request would be unconstitutional and violate his privacy.
“While it is possible that Congress may attempt to threaten the sitting president with an invasive request after leaving office, every president takes office knowing that he will be subject to the same laws as all other citizens upon leaving office,” Judge Sentelle wrote. “This is a feature of our democratic republic, not a bug.”