The powerful House Ways and Means Committee just announced it is ready to do anything it takes to get ten years’ worth of President Trump’s taxes directly from the IRS, including litigation.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) instructed its lawyers to prepare the formal request after consulting with investigators from four other House panels looking into Trump’s foreign influence, improprieties and crimes.
Now that the President’s convicted former personal lawyer Michael Cohen has spilled the beans on a wide variety of crimes by his family business, NBC News reports that Democrats have initiated the process which was previously on hold for the results of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe:
There are several key pieces of information Cohen, Trump’s former personal “fixer” and attorney, provided in his testimony that strengthen the case for Congress to obtain the returns, according to the aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The U.S. tax code authorizes the Ways and Means Committee to obtain any U.S. taxpayers’ returns. Yet committee lawyers are expected to craft a request as precise as possible, aides said, in order to short circuit an all-but-certain legal challenge by the president that could draw the process out.
Aides to the Ways and Means Committee indicated to NBC that they’ll also seek Trump’s correspondence with the IRS to determine if he was really under audit after Michael Cohen said he wasn’t to the House Oversight panel this week.
They also plan to determine if Trump wrote off his illegal hush money payments to a Playboy playmate and a porn star as a business expense, which would be a tax crime.
The last time House Democrats tried to pry Trump’s taxes loose two years ago it became a literal “oh sh*t” moment for Republicans, whose party inspired the 1924 anti-corruption law Congress enacted to investigate President Warren Harding’s corrupt GOP administration.
Trump’s blindly loyal House GOP allies blocked that request two years ago in their first major show of blind loyalty to their criminally inclined party leader.
Ten of the twenty-three Republicans who voted to keep Trump’s taxes secret have either resigned office or been voted out since the last time Democrats forced a vote on the issue.
Congress put restrictions on who can obtain a taxpayer’s returns after former Republican President Nixon’s disastrous term of office, in which he tried to use his access to the IRS to torment his foes while simultaneously committing tax crimes, for which he was later pardoned. Ironically, Nixon’s tax preparers got convicted while he walked free.
The IRS Code allows both the House and Senate to obtain a copy of any individuals tax returns, but the GOP majority in the upper house guarantees that they’ll continue to stick their head in the sand.
A poll by Harvard last December indicated that 63% of Americans want House Democrats to retrieve Trump’s taxes since he bucked the tradition that started after Nixon, where major party candidates release their returns during the election.
House Democrats have a lot of work to do once they obtain copies of Trump’s tax returns, but now that the American people have spoken in favor of a Congress that oversees and checks the President, we will finally find out why Donald Trump was so determined to hide his financial history from voters.