WASHINGTON — The Justice Department and the House Ways and Means Committee asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to reject former President Donald Trump's request to block the panel from accessing his tax records.
In the 30-page filing, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued that Trump and his legal team have not satisfied the standard for the "extraordinary relief" they have requested.
Prelogar wrote that the executive branch had determined that U.S. law required the treasury secretary to comply with a request from Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., for tax returns and related information associated with Trump and several businesses in which he has an interest.
Neal's request "furthers a valid legislative purpose and comports with the separation of powers," she said, adding that a district court agreed and that a court of appeals unanimously affirmed the decision.
"The court of appeals correctly concluded that the 2021 request serves a valid legislative purpose, and the court correctly determined that the request does not threaten the separation of powers under the framework this Court articulated in Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP," the Justice Department's response said.
Chief Justice John Roberts Chief temporarily blocked the Ways and Means panel this month from accessing Trump's tax records. Roberts said the case would remain on hold until the court acts and asked the committee to file a response to Trump’s request by Thursday.
After the Justice Department's filing, the committee filed a similar 52-page argument Thursday against Trump's request. Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee contend that their request is within Congress' Article I power, that it does not violate the separation of powers and that granting Trump's application would "seriously harm Congress."
Citing the decision by the appeals court, they wrote that the committee "has a strong interest in the Trump parties’ tax returns and return information given the unique challenges Mr. Trump presented for the IRS during his Presidency."
They continued, "The request is well-tailored to illuminating how the IRS conducted any audits of Mr. Trump while he was President and whether reforms are needed to enhance the IRS’s ability to audit Presidents in the future; the Committee has gone to great lengths to substantiate its needs; and, the request will burden the Executive Branch negligibly, if at all, because it pertains to a former President and seeks records that in large part modern Presidents have routinely released voluntarily."
Trump, unlike other recent presidents, has refused to make his tax returns public amid scrutiny of his business affairs, and he turned to the justices after an appeals court in Washington refused to intervene in the release of the records. The high court has recently rejected similar requests by Trump.
Neal has said he sought the information as part of the committee’s inquiries into whether tax law concerning presidents should be amended. But Trump’s lawyers say the Ways and Means Committee’s assertion that it needs the information to probe how the IRS conducts the auditing process for presidents does not stand up to scrutiny.
“The committee’s purpose in requesting President Trump’s tax returns has nothing to do with funding or staffing issues at the IRS and everything to do with releasing the president’s tax information to the public,” the lawyers wrote in a recent court filing.