House Demo­crat sub­poe­nas six years of Trump tax re­turns

The Tribune (SLO) - - Insight - BY AN­DREW TAY­LOR

WASH­ING­TON

A top House Demo­crat on Fri­day is­sued sub­poe­nas for six years of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s tax re­turns, giv­ing Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Com­mis­sioner Charles Ret­tig a dead­line of next Fri­day to de­liver them.

Ways and Means Com­mit­tee Chair­man Richard Neal, D-Mass., is­sued the sub­poe­nas days af­ter Mnuchin re­fused to com­ply with de­mands to turn over Trump’s re­turns. Mnuchin told the panel he wouldn’t pro­vide Trump’s tax records be­cause the panel’s re­quest “lacks a le­git­i­mate leg­isla­tive pur­pose,” as Supreme Court prece­dent re­quires.

Neal re­minded the two Trump ap­pointees in a Fri­day let­ter that fed­eral law states that the IRS “shall fur­nish” the tax re­turns of any in­di­vid­ual upon the re­quest of the chair­men of Congress’ tax-writ­ing com­mit­tees and that Ways and Means “has never been de­nied” a re­quest.

The White House and the Demo­cratic-con­trolled House are wag­ing a mul­ti­front bat­tle over in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Trump and the ad­min­is­tra­tion has been re­fus­ing to com­ply across the board, re­fus­ing to com­ply with sub­poe­nas for the unredacted report by Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller and doc­u­ments re­lated to the tes­ti­mony by for­mer White House Coun­sel Don­ald McGahn.

If Mnuchin and Ret­tig refuse to com­ply with the sub­poe­nas, Neal is likely to file a law­suit in fed­eral court. He in­di­cated ear­lier this week that he was lean­ing to­ward fil­ing a court case im­me­di­ately but changed course af­ter meet­ing with lawyers for the House.

Neal orig­i­nally de­manded ac­cess to Trump’s tax re­turns in early April. He main­tains that the com­mit­tee is look­ing into the ef­fec­tive­ness of IRS manda­tory au­dits of tax re­turns of all sit­ting pres­i­dents, a way to jus­tify his claim that the panel has a po­ten­tial leg­isla­tive pur­pose. Democrats are con­fi­dent in their le­gal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion and say Trump is stalling in an at­tempt to punt the is­sue past the 2020 elec­tion.

In re­ject­ing Neal’s re­quest ear­lier this week, Mnuchin said he re­lied on the ad­vice of the Jus­tice De­part­ment. He con­cluded that the Trea­sury De­part­ment is “not au­tho­rized to dis­close the re­quested re­turns and re­turn in­for­ma­tion.” Mnuchin has also said that Neal’s re­quest would po­ten­tially weaponize pri­vate tax re­turns for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses.

Repub­li­cans say Neal is us­ing the ar­cane 1924 law that em­pow­ers him to ob­tain any in­di­vid­ual’s tax fil­ing to play pol­i­tics with Trump. Democrats also want to probe into Trump’s busi­ness deal­ings, par­tic­u­larly his busi­ness re­la­tion­ships with for­eign­ers and to see who he owes money to.

“Your re­quest is merely a means to ac­cess and make pub­lic the tax re­turns of a sin­gle in­di­vid­ual for purely po­lit­i­cal pur­poses,” said rank­ing Ways and Means panel Repub­li­can Kevin Brady, RTexas.

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