30 July 2021

Pass the Popcorn

In a reversal of the Department of Justice under William Barr, the Department of Justice has ruled that the IRS must release Donald Trump's tax returns to Congress.

This is not surprising.  This has been black letter law since the early 1920s, it's just that Barr corruptly pretended that it was not: 

Former president Donald Trump’s tax returns should be turned over to House Democrats who tried unsuccessfully for years to get the documents, the Justice Department said Friday, in a legal analysis reversing a position taken two years ago.

The decision marks another significant legal setback for Trump, who has fought a multifaceted campaign to keep his tax records secret from prosecutors, lawmakers, and the public. Trump was the first president in decades to refuse to share his tax returns as a candidate or while in office.

Earlier this year, Trump’s tax records were turned over to the Manhattan district attorney, after a separate legal fight in which the Supreme Court declined to intervene. The prosecutor’s office has been examining Trump’s finances as part of a criminal probe of his businesses, and has indicted Trump’s longtime financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, on tax charges. Weisselberg has denied the charges.

While he was president, Trump successfully beat back efforts by the House Ways and Means Committee to see his tax returns, including a battle in federal court. But the new opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel said the committee’s request to see the records — as part of its oversight of the Internal Revenue Service’s presidential audit program — is valid and should be fulfilled.


Based partly on that legal guidance, then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused the committee’s demands for the tax returns, saying Democrats were seeking them for partisan reasons.


Federal law gives the Ways and Means Committee broad authority to get tax information for any individual — though the committee cannot disseminate the information to others without taking additional steps.

In the 39-page legal opinion, the Justice Department concluded that seeking Trump’s taxes serves “a legitimate legislative purpose” and said the committee “has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former President’s tax information.”


A 1924 law gave the tax-writing committee authority to seek tax returns and other records to oversee the effectiveness of the Internal Revenue Service’s audit program. But that authority has not historically been used to seek the president’s returns, primarily because presidents have for many years made their tax records public.

It would be completely unethical for any member of the committee or the staff to release this information to the public.

That would be wrong, that's for sure.


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