WASHINGTON, Nov 1 (Reuters) – U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday temporarily blocked a U.S. House of Representatives committee from gaining access to former President Donald Trump’s tax returns, effectively pausing the fight over a request from lawmakers that he claims is politically motivated.
The order from the chief justice maintains the status quo while the Supreme Court assesses Trump’s emergency request, filed on Monday, to block a lower court ruling that upheld the House panel’s request for the tax materials as a justified part of its legislative work, while his attorneys prepare an appeal.
Roberts ordered the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee to respond to Trump’s bid by Nov. 10.
The legal fight has lingered since 2019 when the committee sued Trump to force disclosure of the tax returns. Trump was the first president in four decades years not to release his tax returns as he aimed to keep secret the details of his wealth and the activities of his company, the Trump Organization.
Allowing the lower court decision to stand would “undermine the separation of powers and render the office of the Presidency vulnerable to invasive information demands from political opponents in the legislative branch,” Trump’s lawyers wrote, referring to the division of authority among the three branches of the U.S. government.
The committee’s purpose is “exposing President Trump’s tax information to the public for the sake of exposure,” the lawyers added.
Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham