House panel subpoenas Treasury, IRS for Trump's tax returns

House panel subpoenas Treasury, IRS for Trump's tax returns

Neal first made the request for six years of Trump's taxes on April 3, citing Title 26, Section 6103 of the IRS Code, which states that, upon written request from the Ways and Means chairman, the Treasury secretary "shall furnish such committee with any [tax] return or return information specified in such request".

Mr Neal, who has unilateral subpoena power, took the step days after the Treasury Department formally denied Mr Neal's request for six years of the President's personal and business tax returns earlier this week.

Rep. Neal has claimed that the legislative goal of getting the Trump tax returns is to examine how the IRS audits presidents.

If examining how the IRS audits presidents is really Neal's legislative objective - as opposed to simply wanting to expose anything embarrassing the committee finds in Trump's tax returns - IRS information on its policies and procedures would be the only information the House committee would need.

Mnuchin wrote a letter to Neal on Monday to say that the "Committee's request is unprecedented" and "presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers". Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday refused to do so, saying the panel's request "lacks a legitimate legislative objective". Subpoenas are now pending from the Ways and Means, Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, Financial Services and the Intelligence Committees.

Trump, who came into office in January 2017 with worldwide business holdings, did not release his returns during the 2016 election, breaking with four decades of precedent.

Trump also exerted executive privilege over Mueller's report about Russian interference in the 2016 election and underlying evidence as House Democrats were preparing to vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to release the full document. Mr. Mnuchin had rejected a request for the returns made under a little-known provision of the federal tax code that dates back to the Teapot Dome scandal of Warren G. Harding's administration almost a century ago.

And Republican congressman Kevin Brady - member of the same Ways and Means Committee headed by Mr Neal - sent his chairman a letter on Friday asking him not to issue subpoenas.

Brady pointed to a recent New York Times article based on Trump's newly-leaked tax returns from 1985 to 1994 that portrayed his companies as deeply in the red.

Mnuchin sent a letter to Neal telling him that "the Supreme Court has held that the Constitution requires that Congressional information demands must reasonably serve a legitimate legislative objective".

Congress has never asked for a president's personal tax information before, but that's largely because presidents going back to Nixon have voluntarily disclosed their tax returns.

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