November 26, 2022

WRITTEN OFF: SCOTUS gifts Trump a tax break again

WRITTEN OFF: SCOTUS gifts Trump a tax break again

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Chief Justice John Roberts has halted the turnover of Donald Trump’s tax returns to Congress. The ex-President filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court on Monday, after losing his last battle to keep them from the investigative committee.

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Had the court not intervened, the Treasury Department could have handed them over to the House Ways and Means Committee as early as Thursday. The Democratic-controlled committee has until November 10 to respond to Justice Roberts, who handles emergency appeals from Washington D.C.

Chairman Richar Neal (D-MA) first requested Trump’s tax returns in 2019 as part of an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s audit program and tax law compliance by the former president. Federal law says the Internal Revenue Service “shall furnish” the returns of any taxpayer to a handful of top lawmakers.

Former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin refused the committee’s request at the time – accusing the Democrats’ reasons for wanting the records of being “partisan.” A decision backed by the former President’s Department of Justice.

Neal renewed the House Ways and Means panel’s request after President Joe Biden took office. The current administration agreed with the committee’s reasons, and authority, despite Trump calling it an overreach. In August, a federal appeals court agreed with a lower court’s assessment that the panel was acting within the scope of its power – ordering the records be turned over to Congress.

According to the Associated Press:

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A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed with a lower court judge’s decision in favor of Congress. U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden — a former Justice Department official and Trump appointee — ruled in December that the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has broad authority to request the records, and the Treasury Department should provide the tax returns to the committee.

“The Trump Parties contend that the Chairman’s Request exceeds Congress’s investigative powers. It does not,” the judges wrote. Two of the judges, David Sentelle and Karen Henderson, were appointed by President Ronald Reagan and one, Robert Wilkins, was appointed by President Barack Obama.

Justice Roberts’s decision comes at a time when the legitimacy of the Court is in question. Since the overturning of the 1973 landmark decision, Roe v. Wade, the high court’s once highly valued reputation, has been on a steep and rapid decline, with some calling for the impeachment of at least one Justice – Clarence Thomas.

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Husband of alleged insurrectionist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, Justice Thomas has inserted himself in cases stemming from the then-President’s attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election. Recently Thomas granted Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) request for a stay, to halt his testimony in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ investigation into Trump’s interference in Georgia’s elections in a move criticized as a blatant conflict of interest given his wife’s involvement in an attempted coup.

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Most recently, Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward, filed an emergency appeal with the court to prevent her phone records from being handed over to the House Select Committee. Ward, a vocal election denier, is at the center of Arizona’s fake elector scheme.

The Supreme Court’s actions have heightened scrutiny of its validity and supposed impartiality. One-third of the court was appointed by the twice impeached ex-President, taking a hard right turn. Calls to expand the court get louder and more frequent, as the heavily packed Republican bench heads down an unprecedented road.

Roberts choosing to go against the ruling of multiple courts and give Donald Trump a reprieve isn’t likely to calm any criticisms – only increase them.

Original reporting by Mark Sherman at WTHR NBC 13. 

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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