Even Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, wants to see President Donald Trump’s tax returns. He’s just not willing to seek them from the Treasury Department himself.
Instead, House Democrats are going to have to do all the work as House Ways and Means committee chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) prepares to request Trump’s tax returns in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who will likely fight or delay the request as long as he can to protect Trump.
Denying the request would likely trigger a subpoena which Trump would challenge all the way to the Supreme Court. Unless all of the conservative justices side with him for purely partisan reasons, precedent and the law dictates that Neal has the power to request the tax returns and Trump must hand them over in compliance with the subpoena.
Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has already testified that Congress should look at the tax returns because they will contain evidence of tax evasion and insurance fraud. You can thank Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for obtaining that justification for Congress.
And if the House obtains the tax returns, only then does Grassley want to see them as well.
“If the House of Representatives are going to get them, then I want the Senate Finance Committee to have them,” he told reporters according to Reuters.
Grassley also accused Democrats of seeking Trump’s tax returns for “political purposes.”
“I don’t want what … the House Democrats are using the IRS for – for political purposes,” he said. “If they get them, we’ll just ask for them.”
But Democrats have legitimate reasons for requesting the tax returns as they have been identified by Cohen as containing evidence crucial for committee investigations. If Trump committed tax evasion and insurance fraud, Congress has the right to know. And despite Grassley’s objections to releasing the returns to the public, the American people have the right to know what Trump is hiding in his finances, which could include significant financial ties to Russia.
Furthermore, presidential candidates had been releasing their tax returns since Nixon released his in 1969. Trump broke with that precedent despite repeatedly promising to release them during the 2016 Election, only to rescind that promise after the election.
Presumably, the only reason why Grassley would want to look at the tax returns now is that he wants to be able to spin whatever Democrats find in yet another effort to protect Trump instead of doing his job to investigate.
However, if Grassley sees the light and concedes that Trump has committed some serious crimes after viewing the returns, it could be enough to rally more Republicans against the administration. At that point, Trump is screwed. And Congress should pass a law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns from now on.
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