Court Rules House Committee Can Access Trump’s Tax Returns

TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump sits with his arms crossed during a roundtable discussion on the Safe Reopening of Americas Schools during the coronavirus pandemic, in the East Room of the White House on July 7, ... TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump sits with his arms crossed during a roundtable discussion on the Safe Reopening of Americas Schools during the coronavirus pandemic, in the East Room of the White House on July 7, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that the House Ways and Means Committee can access former President Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service.

The 3-0 ruling from the federal appeals court rejected Trump’s previous appeal of a lower court’s ruling that also green lit the committee’s access to the former president’s tax returns. Since 2019, Trump has argued against releasing his tax returns to congressional investigators in court.

Trump, however, can still appeal the latest ruling, either to the Supreme Court or to the full bench of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“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. This is a feature of our democratic republic, not a bug,” Judge David Sentelle wrote in the majority opinion.

The opinion dismisses Trump’s argument that the committee’s request for his tax return “imposes too great a burden” on Trump because his tax returns would then be at risk of being made public.

“This is certainly inconvenient, but not to the extent that it represents an unconstitutional burden violating the separation of powers,” Sentelle wrote. “Congressional investigations sometimes expose the private information of the entities, organizations and individuals that they investigate. This does not make them overly burdensome. It is the nature of the investigative and legislative processes.”

The appeals court also shot down Trump’s argument that his records should not be turned over because he’s a former President. “In this case, the need for the Trump Parties’ information to inform potential legislation overrides the burden to the Executive Branch largely because that burden is so tenuous,” Sentelle wrote.

In a tweet following the decision, the House Ways and Means Committee said it expects to “receive the requested tax returns and audit files immediately.”

Committee chair Richard Neal originally filed the lawsuit seeking Trump’s tax returns in 2019, when Trump was still in office.

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