FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeff Hauser, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 957 – 9719
In a pair of decisions released this morning, the Supreme Court rejected President Trump’s claims of “absolute” immunity from criminal investigation or congressional scrutiny. The victory, however, is incomplete and underscores that Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal’s delays in requesting Trump’s tax returns likely cost the American people dearly in terms of presidential transparency.
Rather than deciding in Congress’ favor outright, the Supreme Court remanded Trump v. Mazars to the lower court. While that body will almost certainly uphold Congress’ right to subpoena Trump’s financial records, it is unlikely to reach a decision before this fall’s election.
That this decision would come at such a late hour was not inevitable. Had Rep. Richard Neal moved expeditiously to request Trump’s tax returns on his first day in office as many, including ourselves, pushed him to do, even delays of the kind the Supreme Court has just imposed would have been unlikely to push disclosure until after the election. An early request followed by a speedy, aggressive litigation strategy could plausibly have gotten the Ways and Means Committee’s case before the Supreme Court in October. With a decision likely this winter, even after a remand Congress might have Trump’s financial records in hand this summer. Thus armed, Congress would be able to legislate around Trump’s conflict of interests and address weaknesses in financial disclosure laws and the independence of the IRS (or lack thereof). Instead, the Ways and Means court case remains mired in litigation at the district court after the judge pointedly noted Neal’s lethargy.
Those who are saddened that Trump’s strategy of total intransigence has ultimately borne fruit should not forget the central role that Rep. Richard Neal played in assuring its success.