In the latest push by Democrats in their fight to lay bare President Donald Trump's financial holdings, the House of Representatives filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday calling on the Treasury Department to turn over six years of his long-awaited tax returns. "Despite its mandatory obligation, the Treasury Department failed to comply with the law and denied the Committee's request".
The lawsuit comes after Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin repeatedly rejected Congress' oversight efforts and after acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Democrats will "never" see Trump's taxes.
The lawsuit moves the dispute into federal courts after months of sniping between the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee, which requested and then subpoenaed the returns, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
"The Chairman's request that Treasury turn over the President's tax returns, for the apparent goal 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 Ways and Means Committee says it doesn't have to explain its reasons for seeking Trump's tax return information. Toobin said. "There are lots of disputes going on about access to documents in congressional investigations, but there's a very specific law that says the Ways and Means Committee is entitled to ask for tax returns".
The White House is refusing to cooperate with a lot of them, setting up other expected legal battles like this one.
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In the lawsuit, Neal cites multiple statements from Trump lashing out at the IRS for "unfairly" auditing him, as well as press reports suggesting that the President has used "complex arrangements of his personal and business finances" to skate on his taxes.
Neal said in a statement that the panel was now pursuing the matter in court because of the administration's "noncompliance". The Justice Department in a legal opinion backed Mnuchin's position, saying the request lacked a legitimate legislative objective and was an "unprecedented" use of congressional authority. "Without the power to investigate".
Trump has claimed since the 2016 campaign that he can not release his returns publicly because he is under audit by the IRS. Lawsuits over those records were filed in federal courts in Washington and NY, and Trump has lost in those lawsuits' opening rounds. "The lawlessness of this administration knows no bounds and courts are needed to force compliance".
However, none of the officials from Treasury or IRS at the meeting had ever worked on the Presidential audit program, the lawsuit states, adding staff committee members left the meeting with more questions than answers.
State visits and other activities that generate profit for the Trump International Hotel in Washington, located less than a mile from the White House, could be a violation of that clause.