House Democrats are preparing to develop a legal case to force Donald Trump to release his tax returns, saying they will take “all necessary steps” to obtain them, The Hill is reporting.
It’s been a tradition since the Nixon administration, says CNN, for presidential candidates to release their tax returns at some point during the campaign season. Note however that there is not now, nor has there ever been, any law that requires them to do so. Nevertheless, all presidential candidates since then have released their returns, except Trump.
During the campaign, Trump vowed that he would not release his tax returns while he was under audit by the IRS, even though no IRS rule specifically prohibits someone who is under audit from publicly releasing their returns. Once he was elected and inaugurated, he said through spokesperson Kellyanne Conway that the American people “don’t care.” However, an October 2016 poll revealed that 73 percent of Americans actually did believe that Trump should release his tax returns.
Now it’s two-and-a-half years later and Democrats control Congress – and in particular, the Ways and Means Committee, the one and only House committee with the legal authority to subpoena anyone’s tax returns, including those of the president. The chair of that committee happens to be Richard Neal of Massachusetts, a known Trump critic.
NBC NEWS: Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal has asked the committee’s attorneys to prepare a request for President Trump’s tax returns https://t.co/ECZchGKj8a— Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) March 1, 2019
Neal had spoken before of asking a court to force Trump to release his tax returns but had said he would rather wait until FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was completed. However, following explosive testimony last week from former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, he appears to be ready to push the time table forward.
However, acquiring those tax returns won’t be simply a matter of a House aide making a phone call to the IRS. Neal, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and other House Democrats expect Trump to fight the process tooth-and-nail. To that end, they’re preparing a legal case to convince a court to release the documents, leaving Trump’s hands tied to fight it.
Pelosi spokeswoman Ashley Etienne said in a statement that evidence emerges on an almost daily basis that Trump’s tax returns could reveal criminal, or at the very least, nefarious activity, and Congress needs to know about it.
“Every day the American people and Congress learn more about President Trump’s improprieties… These improprieties… give the House legitimate legislative, oversight and legal reasons to review the President’s tax returns.”
It remains unclear, as of this writing, when exactly the Committee will submit its request to a court. However, NBC News writer Heidi Przybyla posits that the move could come “within the next few weeks.”