Trump loses big: 8 years of his taxes are one step closer to reaching Congress

Trump loses big: 8 years of his taxes are one step closer to reaching Congress
President Donald J. Trump speaks on the phone in the Oval Office Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long to receive the latest update on the devastating wildfires in California. (Official Whte House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

With two ambassadors set to defy State Department orders and testify before the impeachment inquiry, Friday already seemed like a day in which the walls around Donald Trump’s secrets were beginning to crumble. Now they’re coming down with a resounding crash.

In a 2-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that Trump’s longtime accounting firm must turn over eight years of Trump’s tax returns to the House Oversight Committee.

As might be expected, that one vote in opposition comes from a fresh Trump appointee, who argued that the request from Oversight was invalid and that Congress needed to go back to square one by making the request part of the impeachment proceedings. Then the two judges who voted to affirm the lower court ruling made it absolutely clear that the Trump-appointed judge was simply making up laws that do not exist.

The dissent cites nothing in Constitutional or case law—and there is nothing—that compels Congress to abandon its legislative role at the first scent of potential illegality and confine itself exclusively to the impeachment process. Nor does anything in the dissent’s lengthy recitation of historical examples dictate that result.

Expect Trump to attempt an immediate appeal to the Supreme Court, but this is not the type of case that that court generally picks up—especially with both the District and Appeals courts in agreement. In addition to this ruling, the Second Circuit is set to rule in the next two weeks on whether Trump’s tax forms will also be handed over to the Manhattan district attorney.

A brief reminder: Of the five impeachment counts against Richard Nixon, only the last one was a violation of law rather than an abuse of power. That last count was tax fraud.

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