Trump Has Lost Key Defense in Tax Return Fight, Democrats Say
(Bloomberg) -- House Democrats seeking Donald Trump’s tax returns argued that their subpoena should no longer be held to the same legal standards that applied when Trump was president.
In a brief filed in federal court in Washington on Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee said Trump had lost the protections established by the Supreme Court that allowed his accounting firm to avoid turning over eight years of his financial information.
“Presidents are not kings,” the Democrats said, “and they do not serve for life.”
It’s the latest chapter in a winding legal dispute that began two years ago when the Democrats issued a subpoena for the information to the accounting firm, Mazars USA. Trump challenged the subpoena, and the case reached the Supreme Court last summer. The justices said in a 7-2 decision that congressional subpoenas seeking the president’s personal information must be “no broader than reasonably necessary” and ordered lower courts to determine whether the House’s request met that heightened standard.
Trump’s lawyers have argued that the Supreme Court standards, designed to maintain the separation of powers, should continue to apply even now that Trump is a private citizen.
“The Mazars subpoena remains a demand for the President’s information, based on President-specific justifications, subject to President-specific defenses,” they said in a filing in April. “The Committee’s justifications concerning the Trump Presidency cratered once he stopped being President, but the separation-of-powers concerns with these sorts of subpoenas did not.”
The Mazars dispute is one of several complex legal battles centered on the tax information, which Trump kept secret throughout his presidency. The new administration of President Joe Biden is still weighing whether to comply with a different House subpoena demanding that the Treasury Department turn over six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns.
And Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has obtained Trump’s tax records from Mazars as part of a criminal investigation into the former president’s business dealings. It’s unclear, however, whether Vance will make those documents public.
The Oversight case is Trump v. Committee on Oversight and Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives, 19-cv-01136, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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