President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice told the Department of the Treasury on Friday that it must turn over former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee because the committee has “invoked sufficient reasons” for the request.
The DOJ letter, authored by the department’s Office of Legal Council (OLC), says the committee’s latest June 2021 request to obtain Trump’s tax records states “former President Trump’s tax returns could reveal hidden business entanglements raising tax law and other issues, including conflicts of interest, affecting proper execution of the former President’s responsibilities,” and that an “independent examination” of those documents “might also show foreign financial influences on former President Trump that could inform relevant congressional legislation.
The OLC letter states, “These objectives are independently sufficient to justify the request for the former President’s tax records.”
“Congress and the public certainly have a compelling interest in knowing whether the President has accepted foreign emoluments or otherwise been influenced by foreign nations, and whether his or her conduct in office might be influenced by personal economic entanglements,” the letter added.
The letter comes as the latest development in a two-year effort by the Democrat-led Congressional committee to obtain Trump’s tax information. In April 2019, Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, requested the IRS provide the Committee with the preceding six years of then-President Donald Trump’s individual tax returns, as well as the tax returns of eight Trump-related businesses.
In one of his most recent attempts to obtain Trump’s tax information, Neal compared Trump’s case to that of former President Richard Nixon, whose 1973 IRS audit records Congress had also requested.
The OLC letter states, “As the Chairman notes in his June 2021 Request, it is reasonable for the Committee to focus on former President Trump’s returns, just as the Joint Committee on Taxation’s predecessor asked only for the IRS’s audit of President Nixon’s returns in 1973 when there was reason to believe that the auditing process might have been deficient in that particular case.”
Rep. Neal, reacting to the OLC letter, told CNN reporter Lauren Fox, “As I have maintained for years, the Committee’s case is very strong and the law is on our side. I am glad that the Department of Justice agrees and that we can move forward.”
The OLC letter said no additional House resolution or jurisdictional rule is needed to resolve the issue of whether to turn over Trump’s tax returns and “because it is within Congress’s power to investigate possible conflicts of interest and foreign influence concerning federal officials, seeking information that could be germane to such an investigation is an alternative, adequate justification for the production of the tax information the Committee has requested.”
Trump had resisted efforts by both Congress and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. to have his tax information released. In October a federal court in New York ruled against Trump and in February, the Supreme Court declined to hear further challenges on the matter from Trump. Following the February Supreme Court Decision, Trump’s accounting firm began turning over millions of pages of his tax information to the Manhattan District Attorney.