The Justice Department (DOJ) ordered the U.S. Treasury in a Friday letter to deliver former President Donald Trump’s tax returns to Congress, likely ending Trump’s years-long effort to prevent his returns from being publicized.
The letter from DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) told the Treasury Department to deliver the tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. Acting Assistant Attorney General Dawn Johnsen wrote the order, saying the law clearly allows for House committees to request and obtain such tax information. (RELATED: Federal Judge Throws Out Trump’s Latest Attempt To Avoid Releasing Tax Returns)
“The statute at issue here is unambiguous: ‘Upon written request’ of the chairman of one of the three congressional tax committees, the Secretary ‘shall furnish’ the requested tax information to the Committee,” Johnsen wrote. “Applying the proper degree of deference due the Committee, we believe that there is ample basis to conclude that its June 2021 Request for former President Trump’s tax information would further the Committee’s principal stated objective of assessing the IRS’s presidential audit program—a plainly legitimate area for congressional inquiry and possible legislation.”
— Sara Cook (@saraecook) July 30, 2021
The Ways and Means Committee originally requested Trump’s returns in mid-June. Democrats in Congress have long tried to obtain Trump’s tax returns by force, subpoenaing Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, and his IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, to deliver the returns to Congress in 2019. Mnuchin held up the process, however, and Trump’s DOJ at the time released a memo arguing that”the Constitution requires the Committee to demonstrate a legitimate legislative purpose,” according to The Hill.
The Friday memo from the DOJ reverses the position of the memo sent under the Trump administration, clearing the way for the Treasury to deliver Trump’s financial information.
Pieces of Trump’s returns have been reported in the past, with the New York Times unveiling in 2020 that Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, and that he had paid none in 10 of the past 15 years.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance also obtained parts of Trump’s tax returns in February, but he did not publicize them.