RELEASE: Trump Loses: Judge Rules Former President May Not Block His Tax Records from Congressional Committee
WASHINGTON – On news today that a Washington, D.C.-based federal judge ruled against former President Donald Trump in his effort to keep his tax records from congressional investigators on the House Ways and Means Committee—which is empowered by federal law to access such materials—Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra issued the following reaction:
Today’s ruling was both the only correct ruling the judge could make, and it was a long time coming—far too long. Chairman Neal first requested these records from the Trump Administration in April 2019, and after the Administration stonewalled that request as it did so many others, the Committee filed its lawsuit to gain access to these materials in July 2019. The judiciary absolutely must move faster in resolving such interbranch disputes directly concerning the power of Congress to investigate the Executive branch. That Congress and the American people have had to wait so long for this result—now nearly a year after former President Trump left office—is unacceptable.
A portion of the Protecting Our Democracy Act, which recently passed the House, would help address this problem by expediting the adjudication of such cases by a three-judge panel with direct appeal to the Supreme Court. Such a reform would be welcome.
This particular case was straightforward. As we explained in our brief, Congress has repeatedly asked for records from the executive branch as far back as the Washington Administration in 1792, a request in which James Madison and other Framers of the Constitution voted in favor. Moreover, the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed Congress’s broad power to investigate, and it has reiterated that the scope of that power is equal to the scope of Congress’s power to legislate. In addition, the statute under which Chairman Neal and the Ways and Means Committee directed their request for these materials was passed specifically to ensure that certain congressional committees could access return information relevant to their investigations and oversight efforts. Finally, the Committee’s request was well within Congress’s power to investigate. The Court recognized many of these points and, even if after significant delay, arrived at the right result.
CAC case page in Committee on Ways & Means, U.S. House of Representatives v. U.S. Dep’t of the Treasury: https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/committee-on-ways-means-v-treasury/
Testimony of CAC Vice President Praveen Fernandes to House Judiciary Committee Hearing on “Civil Enforcement of Congressional Authorities,” June 8, 2021: https://www.theusconstitution.org/testimony/hearing-on-civil-enforcement-of-congressional-authorities/
Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit CAC’s website at www.theusconstitution.org.