Court Rejects Appeal To Keep Trump’s Tax Returns Secret, Setting Up Potential Supreme Court Fight

Topline: A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a last-ditch effort by President Donald’s Trump’s lawyers to shield his financial records from Congress, setting up a potential Supreme Court fight as Trump’s legal team contends with recent losses in several separate court cases aimed at getting his tax returns.

  • The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal seeking to block Mazars USA, an accounting firm used by Trump, from complying with a subpoena issued by the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The subpoena asked for eight years of Trump’s tax returns.
  • A panel of three judges rejected the same appeal in October, but Trump’s lawyers petitioned the full circuit court for a decision. A panel of 11 judges ruled against him Wednesday 8-3.
  • The three judges who dissented— Gregory Katsas, Neomi Rao and Karen Henderson—were appointed by Republican presidents. Katsas and Rao were appointed by Trump. 
  • Seven judges in the majority were appointed by Democrats, while one was appointed by a Republican. 
  • The case meets the criteria to be appealed to the Supreme Court, and Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow told the New York Times he plans on doing so.

News peg: This is the third separate case this month in which Trump has suffered a major legal setback trying to protect his tax returns. On Monday, a judge threw out a lawsuit that aimed to prevent the House Ways and Means Committee from obtaining his New York state tax returns. And earlier this month, a federal court in New York ruled that Mazars had to hand over eight years of personal and business tax returns as part of a grand jury investigation into hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Trump’s lawyers indicated they would appeal those decisions. 

Key background: The House Oversight and Reform Committee’s efforts are one of at least seven different ways Democrats are trying to get ahold of Trump’s tax returns. Trump is one of two presidents over the past 40 years who hasn’t voluntarily released his tax returns. The other, Gerald Ford, released summary tax data, not his full tax returns. Democrats are fighting court battles on multiple fronts to get Trump’s records, but so far their efforts have failed.

Further reading: Read the full decision and dissenting opinions here.

What’s next: Trump’s tax returns will or won’t be released until the Supreme Court either decides not to hear the case or, if it doesn’t take up the case, makes a ruling. 

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