Supreme Court temporarily halts court order requiring accountants to turn over Trump's tax returns to Congress

Key Points
  • The Supreme Court temporarily blocks a ruling requiring accounting firm Mazars to turn President Donald Trump's tax returns over to House Democrats.
  • The House Committee on Oversight and Reform has until Thursday to respond.
  • The president is trying at the top court to block two efforts to obtain his tax returns. 
President Donald Trump speaks to the press before departing the White House in Washington, DC on November 8, 2019.
Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked a ruling that requires President Donald Trump's longtime accounting firm to turn over his tax returns to Congress.

The temporary stay order signed by Chief Justice John Roberts gives the Democratic-controlled House Committee on Oversight and Reform until Thursday to respond. The document did not note any public votes or dissents.

The move was expected and does not provide new information about how the justices may ultimately vote on the matter. It generally requires five votes to grant a stay, though in some cases one justice may do so pending review by the full court.

Earlier in the day, attorneys for House Democrats said in a letter that they would not oppose a temporary delay in enforcing the subpoena to allow the court time to consider arguments from both sides.

"The Supreme Court's temporary stay order was expected, and the Oversight Committee did not oppose a brief stay. The Committee will provide a response by Thursday," a committee aide said in a statement.

Read more: Trump asks Supreme Court to block another subpoena for his tax returns — this one is from Congress

The justices are scheduled to meet in a private conference on Friday.

The saga of Trump's taxes
The saga of Trump's taxes

The president has gone to great lengths to keep his tax returns secret as two efforts to procure them work their way through the legal system. Trump broke with decades of precedent when he did not release the records while running for president in 2016.

Trump has provided conflicting explanations for his refusal to release his tax returns. In court papers, his attorneys say that requiring their disclosure would set a precedent that could weaken the presidency, counter to the Constitution's separation of powers among the branches.

The Oversight Committee has said it needs the president's returns in order to address whether it should update ethics-in-government legislation.

Trump's attorneys submitted a petition last week to the justices in a separate case involving his tax returns. In that case, the president is seeking to overturn the ruling of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals requiring Trump's accountants to provide his returns to the Manhattan district attorney. The justices have not yet said whether they will consider that appeal.

If they decline to do so, it will effectively mandate that the accounting firm provide the tax returns. The firm, Mazars USA, has said it will provide the returns if legally required.

Trump's push to block release of his tax returns come less than a year before the November 2020 election, when Trump aims to earn another term in the White House.

House Democrats are moving forward with an impeachment probe into whether Trump abused his power and tried to influence the 2020 election by urging Ukraine to investigate his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden. They have looked into whether he tied a Biden probe to the release of U.S. military aid or a White House meeting with Ukraine's president. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

The case is Donald Trump v. Mazars USA.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's journey from child of immigrants to the Supreme Court
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