Donald Trump has finally lost his battle to block Democratic-led House committees from obtaining his tax returns, setting up a dead sprint by investigators with Democratic lawmakers to review them before the next Congress is sworn in.
The president had sought for years to shield his tax returns from being released to the House Ways and Means Committee, but on Tuesday saw a final defeat ironically at the hands of the conservative majority that he himself installed on the nation’s highest court.
The victory for House members on Tuesday means that Democratic lawmakers will have the rest of November and December to issue reports based on the findings from the tax returns before control of the committee is turned over to Republicans in January. Democrats will still be able to release reports beyond that date, but will lack the power of the committee to pursue further documents or other evidence.
There were no noted dissents in the court’s order. It’s another stunning rebuke from the justices whom the president’s legal team thought to rely on in 2020 when he was trying to overturn the results of the presidential election.
Donald Trump’s taxes have been something of an enigma for Democrats dating back all the way to 2015, when the first calls for the businessman and billionaire to detail how much he pays in federal and state taxes began to emerge as Mr Trump sought the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He would go on to win the general election that year, all the while claiming that he could not release his tax returns while he remained under IRS audit.
That claim would be echoed throughout his presidency and the 2020 election, at which point Joe Biden and his campaign had largely given up on the issue as a major talking point amid other, more recent issues such as his handling of the Covid pandemic.
Mr Trump has never provided any actual proof to back up the claim that he was under audit for a number of years, and has long insisted that Democratic claims of financial wrongdoing are baseless. His own former attorney, Michael Cohen, would blow the lid off of that assertion in 2019 when he appeared before the House Oversight Committee and was questioned by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about a scheme in which the former president allegedly inflated and deflated the value of his assets for tax and loan purposes, which is a crime.
Those practices fell under the scope of New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, who is now pursuing a civil suit on that matter seeking to bar the Trump family from doing business in the state. Mr Trump has not been accused publicly by federal law enforcement authorities of committing any of the crimes described by his former “fixer” Mr Cohen or others.