Published: Sat, May 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

House Democrat Richard Neal issues subpoenas for Trump tax returns

House Democrat Richard Neal issues subpoenas for Trump tax returns

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal announced Friday he had issued subpoenas to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to provide President Donald Trump's tax returns.

Trump has vowed to fight any requests to release the documents.

As the majority party in the House of Representatives, Democrats have broad investigative powers.

Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin rejected committee chairman Richard Neal's request for the President's tax returns, and now Neal has responded. "There is no law", Trump said in April.

Lack of compliance would nearly certainly trigger a court battle that could drag on for several months, as Trump and the Democrats gear up for a 2020 election fight.

The Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend a contempt of Congress citation against Attorney General William Barr this week after he defied a subpoena seeking the unredacted report on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

Trump has already sued to block one subpoena targeting his financial records, declaring last month's order from the House Oversight Committee "invalid and unenforceable" as part of an ongoing "political war" against himself. Legal experts have said Mnuchin's refusal to turn over the returns is unprecedented, noting a 1924 law explicitly gives lawmakers the authority to seek the records.

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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.

The IRS's Rettig told the House Appropriations Committee in April that there is no rule barring the release of tax returns if an individual is under audit.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called Trump's response to the story "a shocking admission of contempt for the law from the president of the United States" and said the story showed why Mnuchin "has chosen to break the law" rather than comply with Neal's request. (PA) Some on the committee like Rep Lloyd Doggett, a liberal Democrat from Texas, have argued that if they were in Mr Neal's position, they would hold Mr Mnuchin in contempt of Congress if he refuses to hand over the tax returns, a step that is unlikely to happen with Mr Neal at the helm of the committee.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly asked aides about the status of the House request and has not signalled he's willing to co-operate with Democrats, according to a White House official and two Republicans close to the White House.

The president was asked about a law allowing the heads of key congressional committees to gain access to any USA return.

The group is made up of three Democrats and two Republicans meaning that Democrats can authorise any legal action they want through a vote of the group.

"You would get it by building, or even buying", he continued.

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