Appeals Court Panel to Trump: Release Your Tax Records

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Appeals Court Panel to Trump: Release Your Tax Records

The demand by House Democrats for eight years of tax returns from President Trump was validated by a federal appeals court panel, following the same ruling by a federal district court. From the Times:

In a 66-page ruling, the panel rejected Mr. Trump’s argument that Congress had no legitimate legislative authority to seek his business records from the firm, Mazars USA, because the committee was trying to determine whether he broke existing laws — not weighing whether to enact a new one.

“Having considered the weighty issues at stake in this case, we conclude that the subpoena issued by the committee to Mazars is valid and enforceable,” wrote Judge David S. Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

That leaves two options for Trump and his team: Appeal to the full Court of Appeals, or go straight to a sympathetic Supreme Court. The latter option might seem more attractive at this point, considering that another decision against the president before heading to the highest authority in the land could give more momentum to the opposition, and make it even clearer that any action to overturn it by the Supreme Court would be a purely partisan decision divorced from objective jurisprudence.

House Democrats, as you might imagine, were pleased:

Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the oversight committee, hailed the appeals court’s decision. “Today’s ruling is a fundamental and resounding victory for congressional oversight, our constitutional system of checks and balances and the rule of law,” he said in a statement. “For far too long, the president has placed his personal interests over the interests of the American people.”

If the case does make its way to the Supreme Court, it will be about far more than just tax returns—it will be a referendum on whether Congress truly has the oversight power the Constitution grants them, or if those are just words on paper and true power lies with a (Republican) president.

Trump’s lawyers continue to insist the subpoena isn’t a “legitimate exercise” of Congress’ authority, and an appeal announcement is likely coming soon.

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