The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 1 blocked Congress from obtaining former President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Chief Justice John Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, stayed an appeals court order that had ruled a congressional panel could gain access to the documents.
Trump filed an emergency application on Monday to the Supreme Court, asking it to halt the order.
Roberts’ stay is temporary, pending further developments in the case.
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, has for years been trying to obtain Trump’s returns, asserting that they are necessary as the panel considers possibly updating how audits of presidents are done.
Trump said that the true purpose is to release the returns to the public.
Neal is not seeking the records of any other president, and has said that “unraveling President Trump’s sophisticated tax avoidance” was one of the reasons he thought Trump should release his returns.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said in 2017 that the returns would “be useful” in investigating “what … the Russians have on Donald Trump” and that investigations into Trump were going to continue in 2019 because she “want[ed] to see him in prison.”
But U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, ruled in 2021 that federal law “requires great deference to facially valid congressional inquiries” and that the presidential audit program could be subject to legislation.
“That conclusion all but decides the Court’s analysis,” McFadden said, even as statements from Neal and Pelosi “plausibly show mixed motives underlying the” request for the returns.
Roberts received the application because he oversees the District of Columbia appeals court.
Roberts can decide on the application himself or refer the matter to the full Supreme Court.