A House of Representatives committee under Democrat control has filed a lawsuit in a fresh attempt to gain access to President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
The House Ways and Means Committee filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Treasury, secretary of the department Steven Mnuchin, the Internal Revenue Service, and commissioner of the service Charles Rettig in the U.S. District Court in Washington on July 2.
The committee said that it filed the suit “to seek relief” from Mnuchin’s and Rettig’s “refusal to produce tax return information concerning President Donald J. Trump in response to the committee’s valid oversight requests.”
Citing Section 6103(f), the committee said it could request any tax information without disclosing why it wants the information. The committee then explained why members want the information about Trump.
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“The Committee’s need for the materials requested here is evident. The Committee is investigating the IRS’s administration of various tax laws and policies relating to Presidential tax returns and tax law compliance by President Trump, including whether the IRS’s self-imposed policy of annually auditing the returns of sitting presidents is working properly, even though it has not been updated in decades,” the suit states.
Members then suggested they might actually help Trump in a review of his returns, noting, “President Trump himself has repeatedly questioned the integrity of the process by which the IRS audits his tax returns” and that the complaints “underscore the appropriateness of the Committee’s review of IRS audits of Presidential returns.”
Stymied by the lack of a bombshell in the report submitted by special counsel Robert Mueller in May, Congressional Democrats have vowed to continue probing Trump and his family in an attempt to find wrongdoing that they can use to start impeachment proceedings.
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the chairman of the committee, wrote in the suit that the federal court should enforce a subpoena for Mnuchin and Rettig that would make them produce the tax information for Trump.
Mnuchin rejected the subpoena in May, saying that it lacked “a legitimate legislative purpose.”
The Department of Justice said in a legal opinion on June 14 that Mnuchin’s refusal to hand over the documents didn’t violate the law.
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in the 33-page legal opinion said that because the confidentiality of tax returns is protected under the law, Mnuchin did not violate the law in refusing the subpoena.
The department said Neal wants to make Trump’s tax returns public if he obtains them, indicating his purpose doesn’t have a legitimate legislative function.
“The Chairman’s request that Treasury turn over the President’s tax returns, for the apparent purpose of making them public, amounted to an unprecedented use of the Committee’s authority and raised a serious risk of abuse,” the opinion said.
The White House has been facing off with Trump’s opponents for months. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said in April that lawmakers would “never” see the returns.