Congress will have to wait a little longer before a powerful committee in the House will be allowed to see President Donald Trump's tax returns after the Supreme Court on Monday blocked a House subpoena that sought access to several years of the president's financial documents.
The fight over Trump's taxes began earlier this year after House investigators with the Oversight and Government Reform Committee asked Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, to turn over all of Trump's financial documents that covered 2011 through 2018. The committee made the request following testimony from Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in which he said that the president had "inflated his total assets when it served his purposes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes."
However, the company refused to turn the president's records over earlier this year, prompting a legal fight that has now reached the highest court in the nation.
In a brief order issued Monday afternoon, the court ordered the subpoena to remain on hold until the president's lawyers have an opportunity to file an appeal and the court acts on the case. Trump's lawyers will have until Dec. 5 to file their appeal. Should the court agree to hear the appeal, the stay will remain in effect for several more months. Legal experts say that because the court does not typically grant stays of lower court decisions, it's a sign they are leaning toward reconsidering the case.
Trump's attorneys have fought against providing the president's financial documents, arguing that the House has no authority to subpoena his records unless they are being used to compose legislation.
"There is a fair prospect the Court will reverse the judgment below," Trump attorneys wrote in court documents. "The committee's investigation of the president for wrongdoing is not a legitimate legislative purpose."
Lawyers for the House committee argue that Congress has the power to obtain information relevant to drafting laws, which includes stronger presidential ethics rules that are currently being considered by Democrats in the House.
"Two levels of the federal judiciary have upheld that subpoena as valid and enforceable," House lawyers wrote in court documents. "Each concluded that the Committee issued the subpoena in furtherance of a valid legislative purpose and that the subpoena seeks documents relevant to a subject about which Congress could enact legislation."
Trump's accounting firm has stated they respect the legal process and will "fully comply with its legal obligations."
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