I’m pretty sure everyone was warned well in advance that if voters gave control of the House back to the Democrats, the “agenda” for the next two years was going to have more to do with trying to cause trouble for Donald Trump than developing any new policies to help the nation. Those predictions are already coming true, barely two months into Nancy Pelosi’s speakership. The latest salvo is coming from the Ways and Means Committee, where Massachusetts Democratic Chairman Richard Neal is preparing to issue demands for years worth of President Trump’s personal tax returns. What do they need them for? The word salad explaining the answer to that question is a wonder to behold. (NBC News)
The top tax-writing committee in the House is readying a request for years of President Donald Trump’s personal tax returns that is expected to land at the Internal Revenue Service as early as the next few weeks, NBC News has learned. And Democrats are prepared to “take all necessary steps,” including litigation, in order to obtain them.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., has asked the committee’s attorneys to prepare the request, according to two aides involved in the process. Neal has also contacted the chairs of several other House investigative committees, including Oversight and Government Reform, Financial Services, Intelligence and Judiciary, asking them to provide detailed arguments for why they need the president’s tax returns to conduct their probes.
“Every day the American people and Congress learn more about President Trump’s improprieties, from conflicts of interest to influence peddling, potential tax evasion and violations of the Constitution — all roads leading back to President Trump’s finances,” said Ashley Etienne, spokeswoman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The fact that the initial announcement is coming from a spokesperson out of Pelosi’s office is telling. That means that this plan was being hatched, or at least fully endorsed, in the Speaker’s office. They’re assembling the biggest wave of pressure that can be managed in the effort, too. Before moving forward, Neal is asking for justifications from the leading Democrats in multiple committees as to why they should be able to do this.
It’s true that the Ways and Means Committee has the legal authority to request the private tax returns of any citizen, and in theory, they could initiate legal action in an attempt to force the issue. (That’s why Neal was stuck with the job.) But such requests have to be made as part of an investigation into a crime where the tax returns would provide relevant information. And the government is held to strict accountability in terms of when a private citizen’s tax returns can even be looked at, say nothing of making them public. If you don’t think that those returns will be showing up in the New York Times on the same day the Democrats get hold of them, I’ve got some prime Florida swampland to sell you.
A request such as this would generally be expected to begin with law enforcement investigating a crime. What crime do the Democrats claim has taken place where the President’s personal tax returns might be relevant? The only thing we’re hearing so far, aside from vague charges of “improprieties” is a claim of “potential tax evasion.” Really? And who is making that charge? Wouldn’t such a claim normally be coming from the IRS, rather than a committee investigation asking them for the documents? If Trump has been cheating on his taxes, one would assume that the IRS was already aware of it through previous audits and working on the case.
Without an allegation of a specific crime, the new Democratic Majority is looking for a way to sidestep the law and cause problems for the White House heading into an election year. Trump will obviously refuse, setting up a legal challenge that will likely last for months, if not years. And that will suit the Democrats just fine, since the media will helpfully bring up the President’s refusal to turn them over every day.