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Politics Trump tax returns to be released to Congress: DOJ

11:48  01 august  2021
11:48  01 august  2021 Source:   nydailynews.com

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The jig may finally be up.

Former President Donald Trump’s income tax returns can be given over to Congress, the Department of Justice announced Friday — paving the way for yet more scrutiny into potential corruption in both his administration and businesses.

The Office of Legal Counsel for the DOJ said Congress — specifically the House Ways and Means Committee — made a “legitimate request” to review the former president’s tax records.

Former President Donald Trump © JIM WATSON Former President Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump (JIM WATSON/)

The 39-page Justice Department opinion found that, under federal law, there is “ample basis” for the Department of Treasury to hand over the returns to the committee for the “stated objective of assessing the IRS’s presidential audit program — a plainly legitimate area for congressional inquiry and possible legislation.”

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“The statute at issue here is unambiguous,” the opinion from acting Assistant Attorney General Dawn Johnsen states. “ ‘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.”

The opinion is the latest development in a years-long battle over whether to make Trump’s tax returns public, something the impeached former president resisted before, during and after being sworn in — a move which broke years of presidential precedent.

For years, Trump cited the fact that he was under audit as an excuse for not releasing his returns — a disclosure presidential candidates have made for years in the U.S. An audit, though, does not prevent one from releasing their tax returns publicly.

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In April 2019, Rep. Richard Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, requested the Treasury Department provide six years of Trump’s returns because it was considering bills and oversight in connection with federal tax law, but the then Trump-controlled Justice Department opined against it.

Richard Neal wearing a suit and tie: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, (D-Mass.) © Provided by New York Daily News House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, (D-Mass.)

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, (D-Mass.) (J. Scott Applewhite/)


Video: DOJ says Congress has authority to see Trump's taxes (MSNBC)

Last month, the Ways and Means committee sued to enforce subpoenas demanding the documents, and Neal submitted another request to the Justice Department, which now falls under the purview of President Biden.

The Justice Department’s response essentially reverses the course taken by the agency during Trump’s presidency. In the latest opinion, the DOJ said that its preceding opinion “went astray” and “failed to give due weight to the fact that the Committee was acting pursuant to a carefully crafted statute.”

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The latest opinion comes more than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Trump’s taxes had to be turned over to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for its criminal investigation into Trump’s business interests.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court rejected the one-term president’s appeal to block a subpoena seeking eight years of his personal and corporate financial records from before and during his time in the White House, giving Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance the green light to share the records with a grand jury.

As part of his probe, Vance announced charges earlier this month against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg for allegedly failing to pay taxes on nearly $2 million in bonuses and other perks.

The opinion issued by the Justice Department on Friday — which is separate from the D.A.’s probe — means there is now one more mechanism for Trump’s returns to see the light of day, but it is still unclear when that might happen.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lauded the DOJ’s opinion, saying access to the records “is a matter of national security” — presumably a reference to foreign governments’ efforts to influence American politics and governance.

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Nancy Pelosi wearing a suit and tie: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.) © Provided by New York Daily News Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.) (J. Scott Applewhite/)

“The Biden Administration has delivered a victory for the rule of law, as it respects the public interest by complying with Chairman Neal’s request for Donald Trump’s tax returns,” she said. “The American people deserve to know the facts of his troubling conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president.”

Last week, Thomas Barrack, an advisor to Trump, was indicted on charges that he took marching orders from the United Arab Emirates to influence U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Barrack, 74, pleaded not guilty in Brooklyn federal court. He’s facing charges of lying to the feds, obstruction of justice and working as an unregistered agent of a foreign government. The California business tycoon was released on $250 million bond.

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usr: 1
This is interesting!