Former president Donald Trump’s tax returns “must” be turned over to the House Ways and Means Committee, the Justice Department told the Treasury Department in a legal opinion released on Friday. But Trump may challenge the decision in court.
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel wrote that the committee, which first asked for the documents in 2019, had given “sufficient reasons” for their release.
“The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former president’s tax information,” the legal opinion said. “Treasury must furnish the information to the committee.”
The opinion is a reversal from the Office of Legal Counsel under the Trump administration, which, according to Friday’s opinion, “went astray” in 2019 by “suggesting that the Executive Branch should closely scrutinize the Committee’s stated justifications for its requests.” Under Trump, the office also “failed to accord the respect and deference due a coordinate branch of government,” the opinion said.
The Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee sued the Treasury Department and the IRS in 2019 after then-treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin ignored subpoenas for Trump to hand over six years of both personal and business returns.
“As I have maintained for years, the Committee’s case is very strong and the law is on our side. I am glad that the Department of Justice agrees and that we can move forward,” committee chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said in a statement.
Unless a federal court blocks the DOJ’s legal finding then over six years of Trump’s tax returns will be handed to House investigators. But, according to the New York Times, Trump can challenge the opinion in federal court, which could take months to decide. And, because the Ways and Means Committee has its own rules regarding the protection of sensitive tax information, there is a chance Trump’s taxes will not become public any time soon.
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