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Trump Loses Again in Court with His Tax Returns

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Trump Loses Again in Court with His Tax Returns

2019-11-14 17:35:54

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image source: Screenshot)

Donald Trump seems to be on a losing streak, especially with regard to his tax returns. He’s been protecting them for years, and now he’s running out of options after yet another court ruled against him. His next step is the Supreme Court.

There are a number of requests, subpoenas, and court cases revolving around Trump’s tax returns. There have been requests and subpoenas for them sent to the I.R.S. and Mazars USA, the accounting firm used by both Trump and his businesses. These requests have come from New York state and Congress. In fact, there are so many legal cases maneuvers surrounding Trump’s taxes and financial information, that it’s  hard to keep them all straight. 

Trump’s attorneys have filed lawsuits as they saw fit to try and block them. He has been protecting the tax returns since he was campaigning in 2016. While it’s customary for candidates to release their tax returns, he bucked the trend and refused.

The particular request in this case came from the House Oversight Committee in March. They, too, want Mazars USA’s records. This was requested  after Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen said Trump had exaggerated his wealth when applying for loans. 

A three-judge decision was handed down in October rejecting Trump’s lawsuit to prevent the House from subpoenaing Mazars USA. Last month’s decision affirmed Congress’s investigative powers and said the House subpoenaed for the tax returns for “legitimate legislative prompts, not an impermissible law-enforcement purpose,” as Trump’s attorneys have suggested.

“Contrary to the president’s arguments, the committee possesses authority under both the House Rules and Constitution to issue the subpoena, and Mazars must comply,” wrote Judge David S. Tatel, who issued the decision along with Judge Patricia A. Millett. 

On Wednesday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the three-judge decision. On the same day the appeals court was denying Trump’s efforts to block the House panel, the House Intelligence Committee was holding a public hearing in its impeachment inquiry of Trump’s alleged quid pro quo with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The majority of the appeals court’s 11 judges voted against taking on the case. Judges Neomi Rao, Gregory Katsas, and Kare LeCraft Henderson indicated they would have allowed the case to be reheard while publishing dissenting statements. Rao and Katsas were nominated to their current positions by Trump. 

“This case presents exceptionally important questions regarding the separation of powers,” wrote Katsas, warning of the “threat to presidential autonomy and independence.” He opined that it would be “open season on the president’s personal records” if Congress is allowed to compel the president to publicize his personal records with the thought it may inform legislation.

Rao wrote that the committee is “wrong to suggest” that questions about the subpoena’s validity “are no longer of ‘practical consequence.’ ” She believes it’s an open question “whether a defective subpoena can be revived by after-the-fact approval.” 

There’s still quite a bit of time before anyone gets to see Trump’s returns, as the D.C. Circuit already said it would put any ruling against the president on hold for one week to give his attorneys time to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal attorneys, mentioned “well-reasoned dissent” after the appeals court handed down the judgement and allowed that he and the rest of the legal team “will be seeking review at the Supreme Court.” 

The team is also planning on going to the Supreme Court as early as Thursday to block a Manhattan district attorney subpoena for Trump’s tax returns from Mazars USA. The D.A. is investigating Trump’s alleged hush-money payments to two misstresses. The New York-based appeals court also ruled against Trump this month, refusing to block the subpoena of Mazars USA.

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