The Justice Department said Friday that the Treasury Department should hand over the service of former President Trumpto the Committee on Roads and Means of the House of Representatives, putting a clear end to years of struggle for records.
In a 39-page report, the Justice Department’s Office of Justice (OLC) found that the committee “referred to sufficient reasons to request the former president’s tax information,” and said that “the statute in question is unambiguous.”
The decision is a reversal of the 2019 opinion from the same office that was then under the Trump administration.
The new report says that a previous decision that ended the House committee’s request “dishonestly” did not take into account that Congress is an equal executive. The agency now finds that the previous administration, by denying the request for tax reporting, “failed to gain the Committee’s respect because of the coordinated branch of government.”
In April 2019, House Speaker Richard Neal, a Democrat, asked the Treasury Department for Mr. Trump’s individual tax returns and eight Trump-related businesses for 2013-2018 to examine the tax law’s compliance with the tax service that applied to the president. . Then Finance Minister Stephen Mnuchin asked OLC how to respond.
At the time, the OLC informed Mnuchin that the committee should “demonstrate a legitimate legislative purpose” for its request, and said that since the Treasury concluded that the committee’s request was a “ground,” and asked for Mr. Trump’s tax report. for the purpose of public disclosure, ”OLC agreed with the Treasury that the request was not lawful, and prohibited the Treasury from providing tax records in a manner and means.
The opinion, released on Friday, challenged the Trump administration’s decision that the committee’s interest in returning was simply a ploy to hide underlying political motives. OLC on Friday called the conclusion “irrelevant.”
“Congress is made up of elected members who are nominated for re-election. Thus, it is not uncommon and illegitimate for guerrilla or other political considerations to take into account the work of Congress,” the report said. “If the mere presence of political motivation was enough to reject Congress ‘request, the effect would be Congress’ denial of the power to seek information – a result that is incompatible with the Constitution.”
The new report says the executive can make a request for a report from Congress that has no legitimate legislative purpose “only in exceptional circumstances.”
The Roads and Means Committee will review the former president’s tax return from 2015 to 2020 and investigate whether he complied with tax laws.
“As I have insisted for many years, the case of the Committee is very strong and the law is on our side. I am glad that the Ministry of Justice agrees with this and that we can move forward,” Neil said in response to the new OLC conclusion.
The review will address several issues, including the timing that the IRS can comply with federal tax laws against the president, whether Mr. Trump’s taxes can reveal “hidden” business relationships that may cause a conflict of interest, and whether his foreign business relationship has affected his time in the office.
“Access to former President Trump’s tax returns is a matter of national security,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “The American people deserve to know the facts of its alarming conflicts of interest and the undermining of our security and democracy as president.”
The OLC protocol does not have a schedule for the circulation of documents, but in a lawsuit filed by the committee in connection with the dispute, Korean District Court Judge Trevor McFadden issued an order in January requiring the Treasury to notify Mr. Trump 72 hours notice. consult before publishing tax returns. The order was due to expire in February, but McFadden updated the order every month. Taking into account the OLC memo, McFaden reissued the order on Friday, writing: “In light of the administration’s agreement, defendants must notify counsel within 72 hours … prior to any publication of tax return information.”
In February, Manhattan District Attorney Sai Vance Jr. received a tax report from former President Trump after the Supreme Court refused to protect classified documents from investigators. Vance’s office is investigating the former president’s business relationship in 2018, starting with alleged payments made to women who claimed to have had a relationship with Mr. Trump.