Since his 2016 campaign, former President Donald Trump has fought to keep his tax returns and other financial documents from the public eye, but that fight has grown significantly harder for him in the face of multiple investigations and legal battles.
The most consequential efforts in getting Trump to turn over the documents have been on two fronts. The first is Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's investigation into the Trump Organization—a battle Trump finally lost back in February more than a year of litigation.
The second—and far more uncertain—effort has come from Congress, where the House Ways and Means Committee has requested Trump's state tax returns, citing the TRUST Act—a New York law passed in 2019 that allows Congressional tax committees to request tax returns of certain officials.
The bill directs the New York Taxation Department administrator to
"...share state income tax returns and reports on certain federal, state, and local elected officials, federal executive staff, federal officers confirmed by the U.S. senate, or the return of companies they have control over, upon the written request of the Chairperson of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation."
Among those elected officials is the President of the United States.
Back in 2019, Trump sued the Ways and Means Committee "in his capacity as a private citizen" when it invoked the TRUST Act to request years' worth of Trump's state tax returns.
Now, Trump's latest legal battle against the Ways and Means Committee forced his counsel to make an admission Trump has largely avoided acknowledging: He's no longer President.
In a recent report to a U.S. District Judge, Trump's lawyers wrote:
"While the TRUST Act is not the clearest statute, the best reading is that it does not apply to former presidents."
For months after losing the 2020 election, Trump refused to acknowledge then-President-elect Joe Biden's victory, instead peddling the lie that Democrats engaged in widespread election fraud that "stole" a victory from him.
Even now, Trump's allies and staff virtually never refer to him as the "former President," only "the 45th President" or "President Trump."
In the circles of the most devout Trump supporters and conspiracy theorists, Trump is still President.
Self-proclaimed "prophet" Jeff Jansen continues to insist that Trump is still president, that Biden's presidency is… https://t.co/t9hOsiamiQ— Right Wing Watch (@Right Wing Watch) 1618338872.0
Donald J. Trump is still the President of The United States. https://t.co/4UijUymWyH— World War Ky3w (@World War Ky3w) 1618312818.0
Good morning Patriots today is Friday and Donald Trump is still the President of the United States we are a country… https://t.co/IgMnUNvZkO— Honest John (@Honest John) 1617970017.0
As recently as this month, in a speech at Mar-A-Lago, Trump continued to repeat the lies that led to his second impeachment, claiming the election was stolen and that he should be in the White House.
People trolled Trump for acknowledging his status as a former President.
So he actually acknowledges he’s no longer President, finally!!!! https://t.co/nTmNyYEqC9— Hopkins Stanley, RN, CNS - Retired (@Hopkins Stanley, RN, CNS - Retired) 1618335546.0
At least he finally admitted he isn’t President anymore. That’s progress. https://t.co/b952Pt5hqX— Maria Gado (@Maria Gado) 1618323439.0
Breaking News: Trump admits he is no longer President. Sorry Q. Not sorry 🤣😂😆😅🤣😂😆😅😂🤣 https://t.co/KV1QGrhFiH— Sassy Lady Liberty against fascism for justice BLM (@Sassy Lady Liberty against fascism for justice BLM) 1618314855.0
Oh look....Trump is finally admitting he is NOT President anymore!!! https://t.co/fqrwz7IS9L— Kathy Cacciavillani (@Kathy Cacciavillani) 1618302709.0
Gee he just retracted the Big Lie! He just admitted he’s not president anymore! https://t.co/ZcSDKt8rs2— BearOfWhite (@BearOfWhite) 1618293927.0
While it's unclear if Congressional committees will get their hands on the tax returns any time soon, they're already in possession of the Manhattan D.A.