World

Supreme Court clears Democrats to see returns

November 23, 2022 11:08 am

Donald Trump [Source: BBC News]

The US Supreme Court has ordered former President Donald Trump’s tax forms to be released to a Democratic-controlled congressional committee.

The move is a major blow to Mr Trump, who has tried for years to shield his tax returns from becoming public.

Mr Trump became the first president in 40 years not to release his taxes after announcing his first presidential run.

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The House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee has been seeking access to Mr Trump’s taxes since 2019.

Mr Trump, who launched his third campaign for the White House last week, is facing multiple investigations related to his business practices. He denies any wrongdoing.

Tuesday’s ruling allows a lower court’s order to stand, authorising the documents to be handed over to the committee.

It supersedes an order issued by Chief Justice John Roberts on 1 November that put the request on hold as the panel’s nine judges deliberated.

The Supreme Court’s brief response did not note dissent from any of the judges.

The decision clears the US treasury department to deliver Mr Trump’s returns from 2013-18 for him and some of his businesses to the Democratic-controlled committee.

It comes just before the Republicans take control of the House after Democrats failed to hold their majority in this month’s midterm elections.

Donald Trump was almost able to run out the clock on the congressional request to view his tax returns.

With just over a month left of Democratic control of the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court has given the green light for the treasury department to provide the documents to the Ways and Means Committee.

Given that the treasury department is run by the Biden administration, the process of handing over the documents should proceed expeditiously. Democrats won’t have long to review them before Republicans take over on 3 January, however. And coming up with any proposed changes to federal law regarding presidential tax returns – the stated purpose of the congressional request – seems a pointless effort with the little time remaining before congressional adjournment.

But a few weeks may be long enough to unearth evidence of any unusual or potentially improper accounting by Mr Trump – and for those details to leak to the public. And that, many assume, was the real motive behind the request.