House Democrats are continuing their push for President Donald Trump’s tax returns. This weekend, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) sent a second letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in his quest to procure the information under what he and his allies insist is a clear openness enshrined in federal legislation. They want the material, Neal says, in part in order to examine the enforcement — or lack thereof — of tax laws covering a sitting president.
The new letter sets a new deadline for the agency to get back to him. Previously, Neal wanted the information by April 10, a week after his original letter. That date came and went, and his new deadline is April 23, 10 days out from the date of his second missive. Neal noted he would interpret a lack of response as a denial of his request, and House Democrats have already proven their willingness to use their subpoena power to compel the release of documents they’re after. Neal himself has noted that his team “wanted to make sure that the case we constructed was one that stood up under the critical scrutiny of the courts.”
In his second letter, Neal noted that there had been concerns raised in the intervening time about the nature and legitimacy of his request, but he asserted quite simply that they “lack merit.” The Trump team has suggested that they’d take the fight over the tax returns to the courts, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, more specifically, has said that while overseeing the agency’s response to the request he would consult with the Justice Department about the way forward. He claimed to be reacting to “serious issues concerning the constitutional scope of Congressional investigative authority, the legitimacy of the asserted legislative purpose, and the constitutional rights of American citizens.”
‘It is not the proper function of the IRS, Treasury, or Justice to question or second guess the motivations of the Committee or its reasonable determinations regarding its need for the requested tax returns and return information. Indeed, the Supreme Court has consistently noted that the motivations of Congressional action are not to be second guessed, even by the courts.’
The Congressman laid out a number of court decisions in his letter that support his assertion, besides noting that the original tax code provision he’s making his request under is rather unambiguous. The legislation asserts that “upon written request” from the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, the Treasury Secretary “shall furnish” requested tax return information.
Besides those points, Neal also noted that there’s no legitimate place to assume that panel Democrats would act unscrupulously with the material and leak it, again citing court cases for his assertion against questioning how panel members will act.
The documents he’s after could reveal a host of potent information about the president, ranging from whether he really is guilty of the tax, insurance, and bank fraud that’s alleged to what possibly corrupting foreign financial ties he has. Neal wants the last six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns and any audit information the IRS has on Trump.
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