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Supreme Court allows release of Trump's tax records to House Democrats

The decision means the Democrat-led House Ways and Means Committee can try to obtain documents ahead of GOP control of the chamber. 



By Lawrence Hurley

NBC News


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected former President Donald Trump's last-ditch plea to block the release of his tax records to House Democrats, paving the way for their possible disclosure to the lawmakers.

The decision by the court in a brief order noting no dissenting votes means the committee can try to access the documents ahead of the Republican take-over of the House in January. The committee, however, has not said how quickly it expects to get the documents. Upon taking control, Republicans are expected to withdraw the request.

Earlier this month, Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily blocked the Ways and Means panel from accessing Trump’s tax records while the court decided how to act on Trump’s request.

Trump, who, unlike other recent presidents, refused to make his tax returns public amid scrutiny of his business affairs, turned to the justices after an appeals court in Washington refused to intervene. The court has recently rejected similar requests from Trump.

The former president's lawyers contested the House Ways and Means Committee’s assertion that it needed the information to probe how the IRS conducts the auditing process for presidents, saying it did not stand up to scrutiny.

House Democrats, as well as the Biden administration, urged the court to reject Trump's request, saying their demand for the tax documents reflected a valid legislative purpose.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit declined last month to reconsider a three-judge panel’s ruling in August that the Ways and Means Committee could obtain the tax returns.

Trump faces other legal battles, including in the House committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by his supporters. The committee has issued a subpoena seeking Trump’s testimony, calling for him to testify at the Capitol or by videoconference Monday at 10 a.m. ET.

Although the Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority, including three justices he appointed, Trump has not recently fared well in other such emergency applications, including his attempt to prevent White House documents from being handed over to the House Jan. 6 committee and his bid to avoid disclosing his financial records to prosecutors in New York. Most recently, the court last month rejected Trump’s request that a special master be allowed to review classified papers seized from his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida.

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