House committee sues Treasury, IRS for Trump's tax returns


House Democrats filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to compel President Trump to comply with a demand for his tax returns, asking a judge to referee the matter.

House lawyers, representing the Ways and Means Committee, are challenging the administration's refusal to comply with a subpoena for the records, and specifically named the Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in the suit.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L) speaks with Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal, prior to testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 14, 2019.

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal took the step a month and a half after top Trump aides said they would defy a subpoena demanding years of returns from Mr. Trump and some of his associated organizations.

In a letter from April refusing to hand over the returns, Mnuchin said that the "legal implications of this request could affect protections for all Americans against politically-motivated disclosures of personal tax information regardless of which party is in power". Neal has faced pressure and criticism from House Democrats for waiting until July to file the lawsuit, with some liberal lawmakers expressing frustration that the lawsuit could fail to reveal Trump's returns before the 2020 presidential election.

"The Chairman's request that Treasury turn over the President's tax returns, for the apparent objective 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 committee claims that the law does not permit the Treasury Department to refuse, and does not require any such legislative objective.

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Democrats have said the federal tax code gives Congress the right to receive the records on request.

The White House has yet to return a request for comment.

In nearly every instance, the Trump administration has argued that Congress's power to access those materials is inherently limited to information that would serve "legitimate" legislative purposes - defined by the executive branch as materials primarily needed to help draft new laws.

"The committee has asserted an extraordinarily broad understanding of its own powers, saying that no one - not the executive branch, not even the Supreme Court - can question its motives", he said. Another front in this war is the president's taxes, which he didn't release in 2016, citing an audit.

The state legislature voted in May to share tax return information with a congressional committee that asks for it. "This is a risky course of action".

"The judiciary has been a bulwark against Trump's steaming corruption and roughshod lawlessness". I have no doubt our lower courts will side with Congress, ' Representative Bill Pascrell, a Ways and Means Democrat who has helped lead the campaign to obtain Trump's returns, wrote in a statement on Twitter.

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