Former President Donald Trump on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a Democrat-led House Committee from accessing his tax returns.
Mr. Trump filed an emergency request with the nation’s highest court after a federal appeals court last week ordered the tax returns to be turned over to the House Ways and Means Committee by Thursday. The petition asks the Supreme Court to stop the release of the documents by Wednesday.
Mr. Trump‘s legal team said in a court filing that the committee is not interested in the former president’s taxes for legitimate investigative purposes, but rather a partisan probe to embarrass him.
“The committee’s purpose in requesting President Trump‘s tax returns has nothing to do with funding or staffing issues at the IRS and everything to do with releasing the president’s tax information to the public,” they wrote.
Democratic lawmakers have insisted the tax returns are necessary for their investigation into the IRS’ audit processes. They say the request is a “plainly legitimate area for congressional inquiry and possible legislation.”
Mr. Trump‘s lawyers said Congress doesn’t wield the power to demand his tax returns, warning of “far-reaching implications” if the U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling stands.
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“This case raises important questions about the separation of powers that will affect every future president,” they wrote.
The emergency appeal is the culmination of a legal battle raging between Mr. Trump and House Democrats since April 2019. At that time, Committee Chairman Richard Neal, Massachusetts Democrat, asked the IRS for Mr. Trump‘s tax returns along with those of his business entities. Mr. Neal said the returns were necessary for the committee’s review of how the IRS processes presidents’ tax returns.
However, the window for Democrats to access Mr. Trump‘s tax returns may be closing. If Republicans retake the House in the Nov. 8 midterm elections, as expected, it is all but assured that Republicans would drop the request.
Mr. Trump has fought to block the release of his returns at every step in the process with the dispute landing at the District of Columbia Circuit. In August, a three-judge panel on the court ruled that Democrats could obtain the tax returns. The former president appealed that decision to the full court, which upheld the panel’s ruling.
Under federal law, tax returns are confidential but there are some exceptions to the rule, including one that allows the Ways and Means chairman to request the documents.
The petition was presented to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. He can act on Mr. Trump‘s request alone or refer it to the full court.
In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr. Trump, who challenged the subpoena by another Democrat-led committee for his tax records through his accounting firm.
Mr. Trump, unlike other recent presidents, has refused to make his tax returns public.
• Alexandria Swoyer contributed to this story.