The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the release of Donald Trump’s tax returns to a congressional committee, handing a defeat to the Republican former president who had called the Democratic-led panel’s request politically motivated.
The justices denied Trump’s Oct. 31 emergency application to block a lower court’s ruling that upheld a request by the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee for the tax records as a justified part of the panel’s legislative work while his lawyers prepared an appeal. No justice publicly dissented from the decision.
The fight over the committee’s request is one of many legal battles Trump faces as he moves forward with another run for the presidency in 2024. Trump last week announced the launch of his candidacy.
Tuesday’s order superseded one issued by Chief Justice John Roberts on Nov. 1 that had effectively paused the dispute and prevented the panel from obtaining the Trump returns while the court considered how to proceed.
Trump was criticized for keeping his tax returns private as he was the first president in four decades not to release them.
The Ways and Means panel told the Supreme Court in a legal filing that siding with Trump would harm the constitutional authority of a co-equal branch of government “by in effect preventing Congress from completing any investigation involving a former president whenever there are allegations that the investigation was politically motivated.
The news was the second legal defeat that Trump suffered on Tuesday, as a New York judge scheduled an October 2023 trial for the former president, three of his adult children, and the Trump Organization in a lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James accusing them of fraudulently overvaluing the real estate company’s assets and Trump‘s net worth.
Justice Arthur Engoron of the state Supreme Court in Manhattan set the trial date during a contentious hearing on Tuesday following motions by the Trumps the night before to have the civil lawsuit dismissed.
“I ruled on all these issues. It seems to me the facts are the same. The law is the same. Parties are the same,” Engoron told Alina Habba, Trump‘s lawyer. “You can’t keep making the same argument after you’ve already lost.”
Habba had accused the judge of bias. Trump has accused James, a Democrat, of suing him because she dislikes him and his politics, in addition to the fact that he believes she is using it as a political ploy to gain notoriety for herself.
In her lawsuit filed on Sept. 21, James accused Trump, his company, his children Donald Jr, Eric, and Ivanka, and others of inflating Trump‘s assets by billions of dollars in a decade of lies to banks and insurers. James called the fraud “staggering.”
The complaint seeks $250 million in damages. It also seeks to stop the Trumps from running businesses in the state and ban Trump and his company from acquiring New York real estate for five years.
Engoron is expected to rule on the motions to dismiss by early January. Trump is already appealing Engoron’s order requiring an independent watchdog to monitor his company.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters. Edits for FISM News by Michael Cardinal