House Democrats have filed suit for President Donald Trump’s tax returns, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. The move kicks off a new legal clash between Congress and his administration.
Trump has defied a House subpoena for six years worth of his federal tax returns, arguing the request doesn’t have a legitimate legislative basis. Now, Democrats are asking a federal judge to weigh in.
The lawsuit was brought Tuesday by the House Ways & Means Committee against Trump’s IRS and Treasury Department and the chiefs of each agency, Charles Rettig and Steven Mnuchin.
“In refusing to comply with the statute, Defendants have mounted an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS, and the tax laws on behalf of the American people,” the lawsuit says.
Tuesday’s lawsuit represents another battlefront in the sprawling legal dispute between Trump and Congress.
House Democrats have opened multiple investigations into Trump and his family company’s finances, following allegations of impropriety by his longtime attorney and fixer Michael Cohen. Trump has responded with an unprecedented stonewalling campaign and counter-lawsuits which could slow down Democratic investigations by months or even years.
The House Ways & Means Committee is seeking Trump’s personal and business tax returns using a little-known provision of the federal tax code known as Section 6103, which dates back a century and states that the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” requested tax returns to the committee.
In June, Trump’s Department of Justice issued a legal defense of Mnuchin’s refusal, which essentially argued that the House Ways & Means Chairman Richard Neal wasn’t being honest about why he wants a look at Trump’s taxes — because he really just wants to release them.
“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,” Trump’s Justice Department wrote.
Tuesday’s decision marks a change in posture from Chairman Neal, whose reticence to go to court to enforce his request had spurred complaints from liberal activists. The group Stand Up America, in particular, targeted Neal, launching a campaign to get voters to text and email members of the Ways & Means Committee to file the lawsuit.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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