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A three-judge panel on Tuesday ruled that former President Donald Trump cannot stop Congress from obtaining his tax records.
While president, Trump's Department of Treasury refused to comply with a request from the House Ways and Means Committee for Trump's tax returns for 2013 to 2018.
But the Treasury Department reversed itself under President Joe Biden and said that the records would be turned over to Congress. Trump quickly asked a federal court to block the move.
Nearly a year later, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that Congress has a right to receive the records.
The 28-page ruling filed by Judge David Sentelle on Tuesday found that the House Ways and Means Committee had a genuine legislative purpose in requesting the tax records.
"The Trump Parties have failed to state a claim for the reason that they cannot show that Treasury’s decision to comply with the 2021 Request would not have happened absent a retaliatory motive," the ruling noted. "The statute provides that 'the Secretary shall furnish,' 26 U.S.C. § 6103(f)(1) (emphasis added), the requested information to the Committee upon written request. When the Committee makes a request that is within its authority to make, i.e., within Congress’s investigative power, the Secretary does not have a choice as to whether to provide the information."
The ruling added: "The 2021 Request seeks information that may inform the United States House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means as to the efficacy of the Presidential Audit Program, and therefore, was made in furtherance of a subject upon which legislation could be had."
Veteran journalist Sarah Posner, who has spent years writing about religion and the Christian right, has an explanation for the outraged response from some Trump supporters over the FBI executing a legal search warrant on Mar-a-Lago.
Hours after the news broke, Florida Republican state representative Anthony Sabatini called for "an emergency legislative session" to "Sever all ties with DOJ immediately" over the FBI executing a legal search warrant of Trump's home. "Any FBI agent conducting law enforcement functions outside the purview of our State should be arrested upon sight," he wrote, apparently unaware of the U.S. Constitution.
Tuesday night Trump supporters formed a small convoy driving outside Mar-a-Lago, some with Trump banners, Trump flags, or the American flag, – even one vehicle painted with the American flag – to show their support for the former president who might be facing legal consequences, as video from NBC 6 reporter Cristian Benavides shows.
The crowd near Mar-A-Lago continues to grow into the night following that search warrant earlier today @nbc6 @NBCNewsNow pic.twitter.com/FQqppzeXYQ
— Cristian Benavides (@cbenavidesTV) August 9, 2022
"The GOP position is that Trump is above the law," writes The Washington Post's Greg Sargent. "That's what the GOP position on Trump was throughout his presidency, and that's what it is now. Say it that way. Don't let Republicans get away with using fake outrage to obscure this fundamental reality."
Posner has written two books on the Christian Right including "UNHOLY: How White Christian Nationalists Powered the Trump Presidency, And the Devastating Legacy They Left Behind."
In response to Sargent's remarks she advises: "Remember too that much of Trump's base believes that God anointed him, that it's God's will that he be back in the White House. And that they need to engage in 'spiritual warfare' with 'demonic' enemies of Trump -- keep this in mind as right-wing influencers call for civil war."
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Monday night tweeted, "The FBI is raiding President Trump’s home in Maralago! This is the rogue behavior of communist countries, NOT the United States of America!!! These are the type of things that happen in countries during civil war. The political persecution MUST STOP!!!"
Tuesday morning CNN's Donie O'Sullivan posted a graph and noted the "big spike in tweets referencing 'civil war' right after the news of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago broke last night."
Dr. Caroline Orr Bueno posted an image of a large number of tweets that mention civil war and other related calls, including: “I already bought my ammo,” “Civil war! Pick up arms, people!” “Civil War 2.0 just kicked off,” “Let’s do the war,” and “One step closer to a kinetic civil war.”
Trump biographer Timothy O'Brien says that the Department of Justice made the right call in signing off on a search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort -- but he thinks it should be just the "opening act" in a broader prosecution of the former president.
Trump said Monday that his Mar-A-Lago residence in Florida was being "raided" by FBI agents in what he called an act of "prosecutorial misconduct."
In his latest Bloomberg column, O'Brien cast doubt on the notion that the DOJ is investigating Trump solely because he illegally brought classified White House documents with him to Mar-a-Lago.
"Theft of government records is the least of Trump’s legal worries," he writes. "Attorney General Merrick Garland appears to be finally bringing the full weight of federal law enforcement to bear on the former president. Depending on how aggressively Garland pursues Trump for the attempted coup that he and his co-conspirators tried to engineer after he lost the 2020 presidential election."
O'Brien goes on to say that Trump could face a range of criminal charges that include "seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the US and obstruction of official proceedings."
The Trump biographer also addresses concerns that an indictment of Trump could inflame his supporters to commit acts of violence by arguing that letting Trump get away with flagrant lawbreaking would be a far greater danger to the republic.
"Garland’s primary responsibilities aren’t gauging what kind of jury pool he might encounter or how an indictment will ripple across MAGA-land," he concludes. "The American democratic experiment is at stake, and Garland’s core duty is to charge Trump for the crimes he committed and then let the judicial process run its course."
The FBI declined to comment on whether the search was happening or what it might be for, nor did Trump give any indication of why federal agents were at his home.
But multiple media outlets cited sources close to the investigation as saying that agents were conducting a court-authorized search related to the potential mishandling of classified documents that had been sent to Mar-a-Lago.
While Attorney General Merrick Garland has declined to comment on growing speculation that Trump could face criminal charges, he has insisted that "no person is above the law" and that he intends to "hold accountable every person who is criminally responsible for trying to overturn a legitimate election."
Trump is also being investigated for his efforts to alter the 2020 voting results in the state of Georgia, while his business practices are being probed in New York in separate cases, one civil and the other criminal.
The real estate mogul has not yet officially declared his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, though he has dropped strong hints over the past few months.
With President Joe Biden's approval rating currently below 40 percent and Democrats forecast to lose control of Congress in November midterm elections, Trump is apparently bullish that he could ride the Republican wave all the way to the White House in 2024.
With additional reporting by AFP