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Appeals court refuses Trump request to consider shielding tax returns from House committee

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Washington – A full federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., dealt another blow to former President Donald Trump's attempt to shield his tax returns from House Democrats Thursday, refusing a request from the former president to reconsider a three-judge appellate panel's ruling against him.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled — apparently without any dissenting votes — that Trump's case against the House Ways and Means Committee should not be reheard en banc, or in front of the entire panel. 

The decision clears the way for the committee to obtain the financial records Trump has repeatedly fought to keep from Congress, but his legal team could still appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. 

Trump's attorneys did not immediately respond to CBS News' request for comment. The former president has long refused to publicly release his tax returns. 

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Earlier this year, a three-judge panel in the D.C. appeals court unanimously ruled the committee had a right to obtain several years of Trump's tax returns, rejecting claims by the former president that multiple requests from the committee for the records were both unconstitutional and lacked a valid legislative purpose. 

"While it is possible that Congress may attempt to threaten the sitting president with an invasive request after leaving office, every president takes office knowing that he will be subject to the same laws as all other citizens upon leaving office," the judges wrote in August, "This is a feature of our democratic republic, not a bug."

The litigation began  initially commenced after committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts,., requested that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) hand over five years of Trump's tax records in 2019. The Treasury Department, at the time under Trump's control, refused to comply with the request despite a lawful process by which Congress can request the tax document of certain individuals from the IRS. 

A lawsuit filed by Neal and the Ways and Means Committee followed, as did a transition in presidential power and a renewed request for the tax documents in 2021. 

Last year, a federal judge dismissed Trump's legal fight against the committee, the first in a string of legal losses for the former president as he fought to shield his tax records from Congress. in the current iteration of his shielding tax records from Congress.

"A long line of Supreme Court cases requires great deference to facially valid congressional inquiries," wrote Judge Trevor McFadden – a Trump appointee – in 2021,  "Even the special solicitude accorded former Presidents does not alter the outcome. The Court will therefore dismiss this case." 

The legal fight with the Ways and Means Committee is not the former president's first attempt to shield his financial records from Congressional review. In 2019, the House Oversight Committee subpoenaed Trump's then accounting firm, Mazars, for several years' worth of financial papers. A lengthy legal battle ensued, ending in a settlement reached between Trump and the Committee earlier this year. Mazars began turning over the documents in September, according to The New York Times

Melissa Quinn contributed to this report. 

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