According to The Daily Wire, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., notably a liberal court, has ruled that “Congress has the constitutional authority to request the tax returns of former President Donald J. Trump.”
The Daily Wire notes that since 2019, the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee has “attempted to access Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), along with the returns from several of his businesses.”
When Trump was in office, the Department of Treasury stated that it would not comply with the request for tax records, citing legal concerns. Congress responded by suing for the records, a move Biden’s Department of the Treasury has supported.
Last year, Trump’s legal team successfully intervened to block the committee from obtaining his tax records. However, the U.S. District Court of D.C. reversed that decision, which prompted Trump to appeal the case.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the lower District Court’s ruling, noting that Trump must comply with the order to release tax return information.
Following the court’s ruling, an official with the Ways and Means Committee tweeted, “We expect to receive the requested tax returns and audit files immediately.”
Many agree with Trump’s assertion that requests for his tax returns are “politically motivated.”
The court, however, found the committee “has identified a legitimate legislative purpose that it requires information to accomplish. At this stage, it is not our place to delve deeper than this. The mere fact that individual members of Congress may have political motivations as well as legislative ones is of no moment.”
“Indeed, it is likely rare that an individual member of Congress would work for a legislative purpose without considering the political implications,” the court added.
In an attempt to stave off questions about motive, the court wrote:
“The statements of individual Committee members and members who are not part of the Committee provided by the Trump Parties do not change this. The courts do not probe the motives of individual legislators. These motives are explicitly protected by the Speech or Debate Clause.”
Trump’s legal team claims the request violates “the separation of powers principle.” The court did not agree.
The court ruled: The 2021 Request seeks information that may inform the United States House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means as to the efficacy of the Presidential Audit Program.
Further, the Request did not violate separation of powers principles under any of the potentially applicable tests primarily because the burden on the Executive Branch and the Trump Parties is relatively minor.
Trump will likely appeal the decision.
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